Report on 2014 -- 2015 Season Repairs & Updates

Tuesday, September 23 2014 @ 06:47 PM EDT

Contributed by: davidh

The following nest tree cam cleaning and updates were undertaken for the 2014-2015 Season.  The annual services for each nest largely include the costs for cable connections, monthly server fees, day-to-day service costs when Ken, Ben or Mike have to spend time keeping the cams running and the replacement or upgrades of any encoders, servers, cams or components that happen during the year.  Then come our annual cleaning and upgrades as needed. The following defines these final year-end events.

Ken, Ben and Mike supervise our techy work.   I, David Hancock, arrange lifts or climbers as needed.
1.   White Rock  Sept 4-5:   We did a major effort with the WR nest  Last year we had installed a PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) cam in the adjacent tree but it only ran about 2 weeks then simply quit.  This season we decided to invest in two new PTZs – one to replace the wide angle PTZ that had failed and the other to replace the fixed close-up cam that had quit in June.
Russ had supplied the regular climbing crew as the lift to get me up there can no longer get around the now landscaped grounds.   The first great surprise, as we were standing beside the new cam that had fallen 100 feet down the tree as the climber was pulling it up him, was not just that this new Vivotek was still running after this incredible fall, but there on the nest tree, 6 feet up from the ground, was the obvious answer why the fixed close-up cam had died!!  Here was the line coming down the tree but it had been hit, probably by a tractor blade and been severed.  Ken quickly spliced it and wonders of wonders it started streaming.  The second miracle of the day!!
After two days of frustration in attempting to get the PTZ cams level and functional the task was accomplished except that Brad had to go back a third day to tie down a loose strap and move the mic a bit higher.  So today we have a PTZ and a fixed cam in the nest tree, a PTZ and fixed wide angle cam in the adjacent tree and the third PTZ to the south of the nest tree that looks out over Boundary Bay.  So I suspect we now have the world's best camerized nest overlooking the best bald eagle habitat in the world.  Over the next couple of weeks Ken hopes to get all this up and running.  In situ are 3 PTZ and 2 fixed cams.
Note:  The PTZ we removed proved to be semi functional and we are about to send it back to the manufacturer for review.

2.   Lafarge  Sept 22:  Minimal adjustments were planned.  We have a continuing major challenge at this site in that very poor bandwidth continues to plague our signal distribution.  Today, Sept 22, we had the lift brought in and we were going to replace the mic and clean the lens while being filmed for the Dr. Suzuki's "Nature of Things"TV program on CBC.  However just after the arrival of the man-lift and before we had arrived in downtown Vancouver, Ken got a call from Judyb that Ma Lafarge had just arrived back and was sitting in the nest tree.  That was the end of those plans!!  Ken was there to replace some components in the server room and exchange some of the components in the box at the base of the tree, but going up to the nest level for the cleaning and mic swap was now out of the question.  In situ are 2 PTZ cams.
3.   Delta 2:  We were planning a lens cleaning but everything else was really in order.  In the end we decided to leave well enough alone.  In situ are 2 PTZ cams.
4.   Harrison Mills:  Due to some financial challenges at this site we have postponed cleanup actions to the fall of 2015. In situ are 2 PTZ cams.
5.  Delta 3 - Our Exciting New Nest  Sept 15:   Here we installed two new 30X magnification Vivotek PTZ cams under the watchful video cameras of the "Nature of Things" CBC TV program.  Also, since this site is not available for a lift or crane, I had to arrange for a couple of eco-friendly climbers to do the installation.  What a joy this was.  Matt Beatty and Kristine Kirkby, incredible climbers that Mary and I had witnessed the previous weekend at a climbing competition, did a superb job.  The tree overlooks the BC Ferries Tsawwassen Terminal but when Matt and Kris got up the tree there were few branches on which to hang the cams.  But they succeeded.  Ken was able to test the cams but they will not be on our website for a couple of weeks when the new cable connections are installed.
This pair of eagles has raised two young each of the past two years and I believe was the pair that nested just north around the corner hill in the world's largest heronry.  They had nested there about 6 years. The new nest overlooks the bay and the ferry terminal and is part of the Roberts Bank intertidal wetlands.  Next to Boundary Bay, which is on the east side of the Point Roberts peninsula, the Roberts Bank lowlands attract most of the millions of migratory shorebirds and waterfowl that use the Pacific Coastal Flyway.  This is prime eagle habitat and about every ¾ of a kilometer is an active bald eagle nest.  This is also where dozens of eagles congregate during the winter months and last year, just below the nest, was a small herring run.  In situ are 2 PTZ cams.
Question:  Since this nest is also located in the Municipality of Delta we have given it the working title Delta 3. However it might also be called the Tsawwassen nest named after the area and the First Nations tribe that owns the surrounding waterfront. (The "T" is silent in the Native pronunciation of Tsawwassen.)
6.   Chehalis Tower:  Just today I authorized the rebuilding of the fuel cell so we can again run two PTZ cams on the tower for fall through winter to view the thousands of eagles scavenging the spawned out salmon carcasses. As you will recall this tower is on the Chehalis Flats – the site of the world's largest gathering of wintering bald eagles.  These cams will be functional in late October as the eagles arrive from the north.  In situ for the fall-winter season will be 2 PTZ cams. 
7.   Chehalis Underwater Cam:  Ken will re-install the underwater cam in early October.  This year was reported initially as one of the greatest salmon runs in recorded history.  In the end, possibly due to over-harvest allowed because of the projected large runs, the amount of salmon escapement to many of the Harrison tributaries has been very much below average.  Were the early runs an exaggeration or simply another example of a very mismanaged resource?  Will there be enough escapement to bring these different river runs 4 years from now up to even normal levels from the poor number of eggs now expected?  Note:  We are looking for some funds to add in another underwater cam project looking at sturgeon.  Any funds out there?  In situ is 1 underwater cam.
8.   Some Additional Bald Eagle Nest Challenges Just Met: Because of our continued experience with nesting bald eagles and ospreys I am often called upon by industry or individuals to act as a mitigator when an eagle's nest has to be taken down.  I generally say yes to these requests as I try to get something back for the eagles.  We have been instrumental this summer in putting two complete artificial nests on poles in place as well as modifying several other trees to encourage eagles to continue building them into active nests we did at our White Rock nest. 

Hancock Wildlife Foundation