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Bald Eagles Spotted

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January 11, 2004 11:12AM
Eagles get head count around Inland lakes

SILVERWOOD LAKE: More sightings of the national bird are reported at four Inland lakes.

12:21 AM PST on Sunday, January 11, 2004

By MELISSA EISELEIN / The Press-Enterprise

Eagle Count

When: Feb. 14 and March 13.

Where: Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Lake Hemet and Silverwood Lake.

Info: (909) 866-3437, ext. 3216.

SILVERWOOD LAKE - Their wingspan is wider than Allan Kumlin is tall. And yet, they are sometimes hard to spot.

Saturday, one juvenile bald eagle and one adult, which can have a wingspan of 7 feet, were seen at Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area near Hesperia. Kumlin, an avid bird-watcher, saw them both while standing in an area west of the lake's marina, he said.

Kumlin, 61, of Hesperia was one of 27 volunteers who were stationed around Silverwood Lake to try to spot the national bird, which is listed by the Environmental Protection agency as a threatened species. Most are members of the Mojave River Natural History Association. Association members donate time to raise funds or provide extra manpower to support the paid staff, said association president John Edwards of Apple Valley.

Armed with binoculars, Eric Brooks, 36, of Corona, his wife, Marlene, their two children and two nephews scanned the skies near the lake's towers searching for a majestic, white-crowned eagle. Neil Connolly, 47, of Pomona brought his telescope and specially equipped watch that helped him track the time, temperature and altitude when he saw various species of birds.

Similar counts took place at three other Inland lakes. Big Bear Lake volunteers spotted 14 bald eagles. Volunteers saw one bald eagle at Lake Arrowhead and one at Lake Hemet, for a total of 18 at the four lakes. The number is up from last month's count of 10, said U.S. Forest Service biologist Marc Stamer.

Officials have kept records of the bald eagle count since the December 1978 to March 1979 counting season. That first year the monthly average for the four-month period at Big Bear and Baldwin lakes was 19 eagles. Last year's average in the same area was 11. Data for the individual lakes in the Inland area have not been compiled, but officials said bald eagle numbers in the Big Bear Basin have fluctuated over the past 21 years from a low of about 10 to a high of about 40.
Valerie Berta / The Press-Enterprise
Roshelle Brooks, 9, left, and her father, Eric Brooks, both of Corona, Neil Connolly, of Pomona, and Marlene Brooks, of Corona, watch birds hoping to see a bald eagle at Silverwood Lake Saturday during an eagle counting outing organized by the Mojave River Natural History Association. In December 10 eagles were counted in the Silverwood Lake area. Only two were spotted yesterday but the counting will continue in February and March.

The one-hour count takes place from 9 to 10 a.m. one day each month in December, January, February and March.

"It's important that the data is consistent every year and that we have the same spots manned each year at the same time," said California State Park Resource Ecologist Alissa Ing. "Right now that data is more critical than ever before."

Officials are especially interested to see how the eagles and other wildlife fare at Silverwood Lake. Much of the land surrounding the 976-acre lake has been decimated by October's Old Fire and subsequent flooding.

"It's really important to get the statistics since the fire. We need to see if it's going to affect the roosting areas," said lifeguard Rick Reisenhofer, who along with Ing oversaw the Silverwood count.

Silverwood Lake is temporarily closed to the public. Car-sized boulders have displaced picnic tables and in some places up to 6 feet of mud and silt cover many of the park's roads. Possible damage to water and sewer pipes and electrical lines have made the park treacherous to navigate on foot or by car.

"We don't know when we're going to open. The damage is severe. If you're making plans for the summer, we recommend you look elsewhere," Reisenhofer said.

Reach Melissa Eiselein at (909) 567-2409 or meiselein@pe.com

Bald Eagles Spotted

katrina island 1412January 11, 2004 11:12AM

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