WALTON WIND PROJECT RAISES EAGLE CONCERNS – DATA NEEDED
A recent application to build an 8 turbine commercial wind project within the Cannonsville/Steam Mill Important Bird Area near Walton in Delaware County has raised concerns about impacts to Golden and Bald Eagles. The area is home to large winter congregations of Bald Eagles. There are also a sizable number of active Bald Eagle nests in the area. What is less well known is how Golden and Bald Eagles migrate through there. Our March 2009 migration count just upstream of the project found large numbers of both species. Our report from 2009 states “The total number of Golden Eagles in the area during the 9-day count is considerably higher than what was recorded at other sites this far north. The number of Bald Eagles is much higher than expected and we know of no other count sites in the northeast where they are found in such concentration.” There is little fall migration data.
The transect for counting in March 2009 was determined from Golden Eagle telemetry data collected by Dr. Todd Katzner’s research group. This data shows the daily movements of individual eagles, including their elevation above the ground. We work closely with Dr. Katzner and his collaborators. In response to the project application, Dr. Trish Miller created a map showing all Golden Eagle activity in the area since 2007. Twenty of the approximately 50 telemetered eagles in eastern North America used the area during some part of the year.
Another concern is winter use of this area by Golden Eagles. Occasionally we find goldens on our eagle field trips to the area. Our winter studies indicate a considerable amount of golden activity at high elevations in Delaware and Otsego Counties. This past winter a new southern Delaware County site had at least 5 individual goldens feeding regularly during the 6 week survey period, and possibly more when the thousands of photos are analyzed. Since Golden Eagles behave differently from Bald Eagles in winter, many are probably missed by birders at the Cannonsville Reservoir. Goldens tend to stay at high elevations while balds congregate around water.
We have a lot of concerns about this project. The planned location is east of the reservoir on South Mountain. Our immediate goal is to compile as much data as possible on eagles in this area so it can be included in the environmental assessment. If you have seen large numbers of Bald Eagles on winter visits, please send me that information including dates. All reports of Golden Eagles near the reservoir or Walton are important. Please contact me with any information you think might be helpful.
Email: Tom Salo