We saw five bald eagles two weeks ago, soaring over the Saturday farmer's market at the St. Augustine Amphitheater, in Anastasia State Park. Here's where our bald eagle nests are located.
Bald eagles must be preserved and protected from depredations by developers and mosquito control aerial spraying of organophosphates.
Who could possibly want to molest bald eagles, our national symbol? Misguided government agency managers and greedy developers, that's who.
That's what FEMA and Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County once did (spraying nests in possible violation of three felony statutes.
That's what PIERRE THOMPSON, grandson of the founder of The St. Augustine Record did -- on October 10, 2001 THOMPSON cut down a bald eagle nest tree at Fish Island. Under President Bush, the Justice Department and United States Attorney were going to ignore it, but my investigation for The Collective Press resulted in a successful criminal prosecution in United States of America v. Thompson Bros. Realty Co., resulting in a third of a million dollar fine and sixteen acres of land preserved forever. Kudos to the criminal investigators with our United States Fish and Wildlife Service for their dogged investigation of THOMPSON's criminal acts. (In East Texas and other parts of America, a former FBI agent opines, THOMPSON would have gone to federal prison for violations of three federal felony statutes -- the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Endangered Species Act (bald eagles were then an endangered species).
PIERRE THOMPSON's wealthy family once owned much of the land on Anastasia Island, and downtown, and he long threw his weight around St. Augustine like Republican Lord of All He Surveys. THOMPSON got the City of St. Augustine to annex much of his land into the City along SR 312 -- at the time, the lawyers for the City of St. Augustine, GEOFFREY DOBSON and RONALD WAYNE BROWN, were also THOMPSON's lawyers. How crooked is that?
PIERRE THOMPSON is the commercial landlord for City Commissioner LEANNA SOPHIA AMARU FREEMAN's divorce law practice.
Then-Editor Jim Sutton investigated, exposed and excoriated THOMPSON and other local businessmen for their attempt to take over the American Legion building on the Bayfront after the corporate charter expired for the non-profit group that owned it. THOMPSON's fraudulent scheme was pushed by lawyer GEOFFREY DOBSON and joined in by contractor CHARLES USINA (for whom a bridge and highway are named), insurance magnate HERBERT WILES a/k/a "HERBIE," businessman FREDERICK GREEN and former American Legion Post Commander ROBERT TALTON.
PIERRE THOMPSON is exactly the sort of arrogant ethically challenged "good-ole-boy" business brigand whom St. Augustine residents rebelled against in 2014, electing Mayor Nancy Shaver, and in 2016 re-electing her by a landslide.
Posted November 11, 2016 03:06 pm
By Mike Adams Columnist
Bald Eagles have returned to St. Johns County for nesting season
Bald eagles have returned to St. Johns County for nesting season, so keep your eyes peeled and you may just see one.Bald eagles have returned to St. Johns County for nesting season, so keep your eyes peeled and you may just see one.
The bald eagle population recovery is quite a success story, particularly in Florida.
Back in 1973, there were only about 88 active nests in all of Florida. This decline in population led to several state and federal protection regulations and conservation programs. Our state and federal wildlife agencies have monitored the population of nesting bald eagles for over 40 years. Today, we have one of the densest concentrations of nesting bald eagles in the lower 48 states, with an estimated 1,500 nesting pairs in recent years. Only Alaska and, maybe, Minnesota has more bald eagles.
The adult bald eagle is a large, spectacular bird. It has dark brown feathers with a white head and tail and yellow beak, eyes, legs and feet. Females are generally larger than males. Youngsters have dark brown eyes, a gray or black beak and varying mottled feathers until reaching maturity. Full mature adult plumage for bald eagles usually appears when they’re between 5 and 6 year old.
Their nesting territories are usually around bodies of water, especially lakes and river systems. Here in St. Johns County, we have excellent habitats with the St. Johns River and the Intracoastal Waterway running the length of the county on the east and west borders . This year, the known eagle nest count was 32, with most along these two waterways. Nests and roosts are generally in “super canopy” native pine trees, which are very large trees which will poke above the others in the forest, are near waterways and are typically located away from human activity. But Bald Eagles also nest in cypress and oaks, and, in the southern peninsula, mangroves and artificial structures such as communication towers.
Living near waterways, eagles feed mostly on fish such as mullet, bluegill and catfish. But they are opportunistic, and will prey on other birds and small mammals, like doves, mice and squirrels. They will even challenge other birds in flight, like osprey, to grab their fish. These aerial battles are amazing to watch. Bald eagles have also been observed scavenging roadkill like armadillo, opossum and raccoon.
Typically, bald eagles migrate north in the spring and return to their same nest territories in early September. In the fall, they begin nest building or repair. November marks the start of the breeding and nesting season. This period may extend to late April or May when young are able to fly. While highly social outside of nesting season, bald eagles are extremely territorial when nesting. Normally a pair will mate for life, and can live as long as 28 years.
Fortunately, the winds from Hurricane Matthew last month were not as severe as they could have been. Hopefully none of our bald eagle nests were blown down and 2016-17 nesting will be another banner year for this special bird.
Mike Adams is a biologist, educator, researcher and author. He has lived and worked in St. Johns County for 36 years. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.