March 30, 2006

Google Earth

sleep2.jpgNest Update: Well, Craig Koppie -- our eagle specialist -- is involved in an important litigation case at the Chesapeake Bay Field Office where he works, and they've asked Craig to stay near the office the rest of this week. Craig still plans to come recenter our Eagle Cam, but I'm going to stop predicting when he might come and just say he hopes to be here next week.

In the meantime, we have waited long enough to move the Osprey Cam to a 1-minute refresh, and since we're not sure exactly when Craig is coming, we plan to go ahead and put both cams at 1-minute refreshes as soon as we can -- hopefully on Friday.

We select the 1-minute refresh time for a couple reasons: 1) our satellite dish provider has placed a limit on the amount of traffic we can send via the dish, and 1-minute refreshes on both cams keep us under that limit and 2) many of our cam watchers who are still using a dial-up Internet connection have said that anything faster than a 30-second refresh causes problems for them, as they say the image doesn't have enough time to finish loading before the next image arrives. So a 1-minute refresh on both cams seems to be the best arrangement we can come up with to satisfy most people's needs. We appreciate your patience as we fine tune the cams in preparation for the ospreys coming nesting season.

For those who are wondering about the ospreys, we would expect to see osprey eggs around mid-April. Once we get closer to that time, I'll open the 2006 Osprey Cam Web Log on the website and we'll talk more about what to expect at the osprey nest. Things look promising with the couple. They're eating at the nest and building up the nest cup, adding sod and soft material in preparation for the eggs. So everything looks good there.

As for the flapping tape you sometimes see on the Osprey Cam -- our cam technician had planned to remove the loose tape before the season started, but a broken ankle grounded him, so he decided that we will remove the tape on the next maintenance trip up the platform. Fortunately, the tape doesn't often interfere with the image and it doesn't seem to bother the birds.

As for the eaglets, they're growing each and every day. In case you missed it, we updated the Gallery on Wednesday, so be sure to check out the photos. I noticed in the last day or two that we're starting to see pin feathers on the youngest and small tail feathers on the oldest. Very exciting to see their feathers coming in this way.

Special Treat

Here at Blackwater Refuge we truly appreciate our cam watchers who are not only very loyal, but also very patient as we work through our technical issues and various other adventures with the cameras and the birds. As a thank you, I wanted to offer a special treat.

Some of you may have heard of Google Earth -- it's a satellite imaging program that the search company Google offers for free on its website. It's an amazing program that lets you basically travel the globe and get an aerial view of countless sights using satellite images.

In order to give our cam watchers from around the world a better idea as to where we are located, I've put together a short Google Earth movie showing the Earth from a distance and then zooming in to Blackwater Refuge, which is located near the town of Cambridge on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. This area is also known as the Delmarva Peninsula, because the peninsula is comprised of Delaware and parts of Maryland and Virginia (Del-Mar-Va).

Our Refuge is very close to the Chesapeake Bay -- the largest estuary in the U.S. -- which splits the western and eastern shores of Maryland, so keep an eye out for that big blue landmark in the movie. In the clip, you will also see a box representing our Visitor Center on Key Wallace Drive. And at the end of the clip, you will see our Wildlife Drive, which looks like a thin white line running beside the waters of the Blackwater River in the area below the Visitor Center. The river that is emptying into the Refuge from above is the Little Blackwater River.

The movie is a 5.7 MB Windows Media Video file. You can right-click on the image below and choose "Save Target As" to download it to your computer to play. We hope you enjoy!


Until next time,
Lisa - webmaster

Posted by Webmaster at March 30, 2006 09:42 PM