Instead of watching old movies of the 40s and 50s, that have been continuously playing on most cable channels of late, crank up your computer or iPad and check out the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s (PGC) live streaming Eagle Cam.
A new season of live-streamed action from a bald-eagle nest near Codorus State Park in Hanover, Pa. is underway, says the PGC. The agency announced its popular Eagle Cam, a joint project with partners HDOnTap and Comcast Business, has returned.
The Hanover cam is one of two bald-eagle livestreams the Game Commission, HDOnTap and Comcast Business, are planning this nesting season. No date has been selected for the launch of the Farm Country Eagle Cam.
This is the seventh year for the 24-7 livestream at the Hanover nest. HDOnTap Co-Founder Tiffany Sears said the company is excited the action has begun.
"This is one of our most popular live cameras,” Sears said. "Since 2015, viewers have enjoyed ?over 40 million hours of 24-7, live HD video? and audio from the nest, as well as daily time-lapse clips on screens worldwide.”
The last two seasons have been tough ones for the eagles at the Hanover nest. No chicks have hatched in either. Last season, viewers watched patiently as the pair of adult eagles took turns incubating their clutch of two eggs, but by late March, the eggs still hadn’t hatched and were deemed unviable. Eagle-lovers everywhere are hoping this year will be different.
Comcast Business has generously signed on for another year to provide the Internet connectivity for both Eagle Cam livestreams. The company is proud to again partner with HDOnTap to provide fast, reliable and secure Internet service that will enable nature enthusiasts to continue watching and learning about these amazing bald eagles,” said Aaron Mimran, Vice President of Comcast Business for the company’s Keystone Region.
“HDOnTap is also thrilled to be working again with Raptor Biologist, Zoey Greenberg, on the Hanover Bald Eagle Blog, to help share with viewers educational information, photos and video highlights pertaining to Bald Eagles and specifically the events at the Hanover nest,” says Tiffany Sears. The blog can be found at: https://hdontap.com/index.php/articles/type/category/hanover_eagle_updates. ?
The Hanover, Pa. livestream can be found at www.pgc.pa.gov and on HDOnTap’s website, where it can be found on HDOnTap’s. Live Hanover Bald Eagles. .
“The resurgence of bald eagles in Pennsylvania represents one of the greatest conservation success stories in the country,” said Steve Smith, director of the Game Commission’s Bureau of Information and Education. “It’s a product of decades of planning and hard work by Game Commission staff. We are excited for this opportunity to once again bring this pair into homes and schools across the country through the livestream.”
Since local fishing action is dead, at least until ice fishing begins, you may want to take a ride to North New Jersey shore points for some big fish action be it from the surf or charter boats. Here are the latest reports from On the Water Magazine for that area of the Jersey shore:
Rick Hebert, at Tackle World in Rochelle Park, said stripers were still biting in Raritan Bay on Ava’s and on the troll. Black fishing has been a struggle with good fishing one day, then tough going for the next two or three. He’s been getting better reports from the southern spots. Offshore sea bass trips are seeing more porgies than sea bass, he added.
Capt. Phil Sciortino, at the Tackle Box, said the boats continue to do well with bass in the bay with some fish on the beach at Sandy Hook. He also reported some bigger fish, up to 50 pounds, caught farther to the east. He’s getting better tog fishing reports.
Mike Pinto, at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright, said it’s been quiet there but he did hear of bass on the beach at Sandy Hook.
Mike Gleason, at Tak Waterman in Long Branch, said anglers are still getting bass in the surf there. Short bass are hitting sand eel imitations and there are peanut bunker mixed in with the sand eels. There were small bass chasing peanut bunker in the Bradley Beach surf last week and were hitting 4-inch Storm Shad lures.
Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, said it was a good week for surf fishing in Monmouth and Ocean counties. Any sand eel imitation with a teaser was working, with most of the fish in the 24-28-inch range with a few smaller ones mixed in. Tsunami sand eels are a shop favorite. Matthews reported better winter flounder fishing in the Shark River over the past few days. One angler had eight fish to 3 pounds, keeping only two.
Capt. Pete Sykes, of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar, reported excellent striper fishing on Monday and Tuesday of last week on jigs and on the troll. He believes bass will be around after the storm. Black fishing, however, has been hit-or-miss. The dogfish have been a problem and if they’re around, the tog are not.
Max Kristiansen, at the Reel Seat in Brielle, said bass in the surf is the best game in town right now with the better fishing south of the Manasquan Inlet. Black fishing has been pretty inconsistent as some days are better than others.
Jason Szabo, at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach, said the Manasquan River is still giving up a lot of small bass. Shad bodies at the bridges are working for them. He added that the surf has been good for shorts and keepers on jigs, but rigs were working as well.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz, on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach, was on the tog grounds on Monday and reported it was hard but productive fishing as several anglers got their limits.
Frank Giacalone, at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick, reported the blackfish bite has been decent out in the ocean, and is holding up in the Point Pleasant Canal. Striper fishing off the beach remains good with Ava’s and teasers. There’s also lots of peanut bunker in the wash.
Pete Kupper, at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach, said stripers were biting on the beach there right up until the wind started blowing. Bill Hurley Sand Eels have been the most popular bait. There are also some winter flounder in the bay by the Mantoloking Bridge.
Scott, at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park, said the bass fishing was red hot last Tuesday morning with loads of fish caught off the beach. Surf fishing was also good over the weekend. The bite was mainly on sand eel imitations but Mag Darters, SP Minnows and gliders also caught fish. Most of the fish were shorts, but there were some 30-inch stripers in the mix.
John Bushell, at Betty and Nick’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park, said stripers are still in the surf and hitting sand eels.
If you haven’t filled your buck or doe harvest tags during the past deer hunting seasons, you’ll get another opportunity during the post-Christmas deer season. But that’s provided you hunt with archery or flintlock muzzleloader, or firearms in selected counties.
The archery and flintlock deer hunting season for both antlered and antlerless deer re-opens Dec. 26 and runs until Jan. 18 statewide. For those hunting in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, the season continues to Jan. 23.
If you have remaining antlerless tags, the extended firearms season runs Dec. 23 – Jan 23 in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester and Philadelphia counties.
And for you upland hunters, the Pennsylvania Game Commission will hold a late season pheasant stocking. Both male and female pheasants will be stocked on Dec. 22 and 23 and the birds may be hunted after stocking but not on Christmas day. The season will reopen on Dec. 26. The only exception to this is there’s no hunting in the state’s two Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas.
Keep in mind that even though hunters may hunt immediately after the pheasants are released, and if encountering a stocking truck, the PGC reminds hunters that the area around the truck is established as a safety zone hence it’s unlawful to discharge a firearm within 150 yards of a PGC vehicle if its occupants are releasing pheasants.
According to the PGC, more than 218,000 pheasants are allocated for this statewide late season release. To learn about what tracts are being stocked visit the interactive stocking map and pheasant-allocation breakdowns at www.pgc.pa.gov.
As a reminder, the PGC says that except for senior lifetime license-buyers who bought their lifetime hunting or combination licenses prior to May 13, 2017, hunters need a pheasant permit in addition to their general hunting license. For adults and non-exempted senior hunters, the permit costs $26.90. For junior hunters and mentored permit holders under 17, the permit is free.
When going afield, all safety and regulations apply such as wearing 250 square inches of fluorescent orange. That, plus the pheasant daily limit is two with a possession limit of six.
With snow on the ground, these late season hunts make for a great time to be afield and in the woods.
Well it won’t be long before anglers will be able to walk on water…. for ice fishing that is.
Our tackle shop reporters have not heard of any ice action which, despite cold temperatures, having 10 inches or more of snow atop the ice merely provides an insulation that prevents ice from forming.
We’ll keep you posted when ice fishing action kicks off, most likely on Pocono Mountain waters before local waters like Leaser Lake and Ontelaunee Reservoir.
With the light coating of snow we received this week, it was the incentive for skiers and snowboarders to get their gear in shape for the skiing/boarding/riding season.
However, with the coronavirus problem, snow lovers will have to adjust to new rules and procedures for the season. For one, Bear Creek Resort outside of Macungie has turned to all-online ticket sales and passes that will be for date-specific use according to Arialle Hess, Bear Creek Marketing Manager. The purpose is to control the number of guests. In addition, the resort is asking guests to leave their extra gear in their car instead of in the lodge. And of course, masks and social distancing is needed while in the lodges and elsewhere. In addition, guests must complete ski/board rentals and sign waivers on-line through the resorts new app.
Hess mentioned that they are adding food trucks for guests to have food outside in an added effort to maintain social distancing.
As for any changes or additions to the mountain itself, Hess said they extended their tubing run to the top of the tubing slope for a more exciting run down the mountain.
Up at Blue Mountain Resort in Palmerton, they too have incorporated Covid precautions in several ways, and implemented them yesterday their first day of operation.
According to Ashley Seier, marketing manager, a limited number of tickets will be available to purchase online and in advance of your arrival. The resort doesn’t expect walk-up tickets to be available during the winter season. Some single day tickets may be available for same-day purchase online, however those quantities are limited.
Blue Mountain plans to offer off-hill activities including Hike N Tube, Plunge, Aquatic Centre, Woodview Mountaintop Skating and Snowshoeing. Seier notes that these activities are subject to health mandates and are weather and conditions permitting.
Seier added that they plan to offer night skiing for the 2020-21 season and is scheduled to start Thursday, December 17, 2020, of course weather conditions permitting.
To manage on-hill capacity, priority access will be given to Season Passholders (Ikon, Ikon Base and 5x7) and guests that have purchased a lift ticket online, in advance. And not unexpectedly, face masks and coverings are required while in the lift line and on the chairlifts. Blue Mountain also recommends guests wear a face mask/covering while on-hill.
Prior to the opener, and on 6-person chairlifts, family, or social bubbles can load together on the same chair. On 4-person and triple chairs, family or social bubbles will be loaded together. In all other instances, 4-person and triple chairlifts will load with one rider. Guests will also be sorted to ensure adequate distancing on chairs. Plus, lift loading procedures will be subject to Public Health legislation and may change without notice.
Seier said that when they open, they’ll open as many runs as they can. Typically, that includes the Silver Bullet chair first, along with one of the Magic Carpet beginner areas, Memory Lane, Tranquility and Smart Alec that are always the first top-to-bottom trails to open. Depending on conditions, Blue might have all three open, or perhaps only one or two.
Bear Creek is hoping to open Dec. 21. And according to channel 69 News Weather, we may get some appreciable snow on Wednesday, Dec. 16.
Otherwise, all we need is colder weather so the resorts can make lots of snow with any real snow adding an extra touch of white over the mountain resorts.
If you’re an avid birder, then this is your time of year to apply your birding expertise.
The National Audubon Society’s (NAS) 121st annual Christmas Bird Count gets underway from Dec. 14 to January 5.
For those new to the count, it’s an early-winter bird census where thousands of volunteers across the U.S., Canada, and many countries in the Western Hemisphere, go out over a 24-hour period on one calendar day to count birds in their area. According to the NAS, your local count will occur on one day between those dates. And you may participate in as many counts as you wish.
So how does the count work? NAS says there is a specific method to the Christmas Bird Count (CBC). All participants must make arrangements to participate in advance with the circle compiler within an established circle, but anyone can participate. To register, check the NAS website then click on the area of their map to see who is the count compiler. In our area it’s Laurie Goodrich at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If she’s not within your area, she could point you to another compiler.
Each count takes place in an established 15-mile wide diameter circle, and is organized by a count compiler. Count volunteers follow specific routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. It’s not just a species tally as all birds are counted, and it gives an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day.
And if you’re a beginning birder, you’ll be able to join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher.
If your home is within the boundaries of a CBC circle, then you can stay at home and report the birds that visit your feeder on count day as long as you’ve made prior arrangements with the count compiler.
Some birders may wonder if they can do their own CBC and send in their data. NAS says no since each CBC is a real census, and since the 15-mile diameter circle contains a lot of area to be covered, single-observer counts (except in unusual circumstances) cannot be allowed.
But there is an alternative. Birders can get involved in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) organized by Audubon along with Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It takes place President’s Day weekend each February wherein you can count the birds each day in your backyard/community and then enter the results online.
Local goose hunters get their third of fourth goose hunting season when it re-opens Dec. 14 – Jan. 16. The last segment runs Jan. 29 – Feb. 20.
Since many farmers have harvested their corn and soybean fields, geese are feasting on corn and bean remnants that the harvesting machines dropped. As of last week, two large flocks of geese were hitting the cornfields off Mauch Chunk Road in South Whitehall, the land owned by GES Chemicals (Trojan Powder Company for us old timers). Smaller flocks have also been spotted in fields in Upper and Lower Macungie Townships and several farms near Leaser Lake.
And it won’t be long before snow geese show up. A lot of farmers are growing winter wheat which the snows love and can decimate a small field in short time. Look for many of them to overnight on a quarry in Fogelsville and one on Route 329 on the outskirts of Northampton.
PA GOV. WOLF VETOES FIREARMS/AMMO BILLS
From the NRA/ILA comes word that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a pair of pro-Second Amendment bills that had passed both chambers of the Legislature with solid support. The move was not unexpected, given that the anti-gun Governor has been unilaterally demonstrating his disdain for freedom and liberty for months.
Nevertheless, we want to thank the legislators who took a bold stand for the rights of Pennsylvanians. House Bill 2440 and House Bill 1747 had both passed the Senate in November on votes of 29-20 after easily clearing the House earlier this Fall. These bills were written to protect constitutionally guaranteed rights during declared states of emergencies.
House Bill 2440, by Rep. Bill Kortz, would have designated shooting ranges, sportsman clubs, hunting facilities and business relating to the sale or production of firearms and ammunition as life-sustaining. House Bill 1747, by Rep. Matthew Dowling, would have prevented state and local governments from suspending or limiting the sale, dispensing, or transportation of firearms during a declared emergency. It also would have removed the carry prohibitions that exist with exemptions.
COVID-19, and the closures occurring across much of the country, have forced a reexamination of statutes in many states with regard to declared states of emergency.
Citizens are guaranteed basic fundamental rights that should never be infringed, particularly in these tumultuous times. We have witnessed firsthand the inability of government to protect people, and it is absolutely essential that citizens be able to provide for their own self-defense, especially during a declared state of emergency. While Gov. Wolf's veto is disappointing, NRA will continue to fight for the rights of all Pennsylvanians.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.