Netley-Libau Marsh (MB009): An Infestation of Bald Eagles

Charlie McPherson offers the latest tales of eagles, pelicans, leaky boats and cans of mushroom soup from Netley-Libau Marsh.

Adult Bald Eagle at Netley-Liba Marsh. Copyright Charlie McPherson

Adult Bald Eagle at Netley-Libau Marsh. Copyright Charlie McPherson

Can you believe it?  I backed the boat in at the end of Warner Road this morning and forgot to put the drain plug in again, and Marg wasn’t there this time to let Homer know before he got it off the trailer.

It would have been too hard to reload and drain it from the trailer,  what with the wind blowing the boat off it’s reloading line and Lake Winnipeg’s waves lifting it up and laying it on top of submerged rocks and all (how nice,) so I plugged the thing and started bailing  and dropped the partly filled bailing can into the water and it floated just right/upright off towards Gimli. So I chug-a-lug as much water as I can out of the 4 litre milk jug knowing I’ll be out on the lake for quite some time, then cut the bottom off the jug and used it as  bailing can.

Marg and I boated the beach ridge last week doing the Netley-Libau Marsh (NLM) spring counts for Canada’s Important Bird Area (IBA) Program and counted 39 Bald Eagles. That was according to the IBA Protocol (no double counts.)  I was wanting to redo that count today just to make sure that we hadn’t double counted any. We hadn’t. In fact, more had arrived.

Today’s tally:  Warner Rd. at the NW corner of the IBA to Patricia Beach at the NE corner of the IBA – 25 km., plus up the Main Channel (south) to the center of the marsh and down the East Channel (north) back to the lake – 12 km.

Bald Eagle: 86 (WHOA!)
Nest Occupied: 5
Adults: 24
Juveniles: 62

028  Juvenile Bald Eagle - Netly-Libau Marsh

Juvenile Bald Eagle at Netley-Libau Marsh. Copyright Charlie McPherson

Other Species not in last week’s spring migration count: 

Tundra Swan: 20  

A 360 degree canvas of clean grey on clean grey was my treat for today, with additional  grey on grey added to yet even more grey on grey for fun.  Mixing beautiful greys and keeping them fresh and clean must be the Magic Painter’s specialty. I couldn’t find any errors. And then, to pull it all off,  a canvas within a canvas: a brilliant white sun poked it’s head out from amongst the grey to cast a sprawling, dazzling white net across the water to catch a flock of 20 White Pelicans struggling to break free in flight – the best white on white I’ve ever seen – crystals of backlit white water splashes marking their runways.   And off in the distance for an anchor, a pair of adult Bald Eagle sporting  all black coats and  sensitively painted all white diamonds for top hats and all white silk  for coat-tails.

GAWD! Was it ever cold on the lake: SE wind @ about 10+ and rising (not the best wind for lake travel – but doable,)  temps supposed to go to 10 C (ha, ha): long johns, lined pants, light down-lined coat under full cover skidoo suit; wool socks, leather wool-lined mitts (not gloves); cold left over white rice and black beans in a grey, mushroom soup gravy which, after bouncing around in the washtub waves and lifting the lid, I see a 5″x8″ of what I had seen all around me. Some crazy Lake Genie held back a few mushrooms for clean and fresh  grey clouds in a tint of grey soup for the  sky over a tone of grey soup for the lake,  spoonful’s of clean and fresh white rice for the net, tones of white rice mixed in just a touch of gravy for backlit pelicans and sparkles of white splashes for their runways; a few beans and a few grains of rice for the eagles, and a hodge/podge of mixed beans and gravy for the beach ridge. And to pull all that off, a few of the beans scattered about for the black backs of diving Western Grebes.

86 Bald Eagles! Who’d a thunk it! And that’s not counting the ones in the south end of the marsh. There’s always a few hanging around down there.