Our Eagle Festival is now the only such festival in New England. There was one down in Connecticut but because of budget cuts, it is no longer being held. Before that, the Nutmeggers* would have as much as 6,000 to 11,000 people show up for the spectacle. I don’t think even Newburyport could handle such a sudden influx but if we end up being “it”, get ready!
Our past events have been absolutely rewarding. Why, last year a tour came out to the Amesbury side of the Hines Bridge and was gawking at the expanse of water before Eagle Island when an eagle swooped down, magnificently grabbed a fish, flew directly overhead of the group, perched on a tree directly behind them and began to eat. Obviously, the Chamber of Commerce had given him an extra bonus in his pay!
Of course, the sightings around Cushing Park, Moseley Woods and Deer Island are rewarding enough. Then, the Joppa Flats Audubon, the Parker River Refuge Wildlife Center and City Hall are just filled with living raptors! If you are planning on seeing the eagles and other creatures, you will have to get in the door early. The Auditorium literally becomes standing room only.
I think from what I am seeing on the weather forecasts, this will be the first year, the temperature is not in the twenties. (The eagles on the river are non-plus about the temperature, unlike us!) It is suppose to be sunny and right around 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Regardless, everyone should bundle up in layers and make sure every extremity is covered. To get good views, It may take time standing out in the raw wind since the Chamber can’t pay bonuses to every bird!
Of course, try not to get overly enthused. One year, I was with a large group at the back of the Ferraz-Shawmut building straining to see the eagles. All of a sudden, I saw this magnificent bird swooping down from across the river and I cried out, “There’s an eagle!” Of course, everyone came running and the bird flew closer and closer and amazingly turned himself into a large seagull.
I hurriedly looked for a crack in the river ice to crawl into but there was none. I think I will leave it to the “experts” next time to spot an eagle.
Hark to the whimper of the seagull!
He weeps because he’s not an ea-gull.
Suppose you were, you silly seagull
Could you explain it to your she-gull?
* Connecticut natives are called Nutmeggers.
Some pictures from past festivals