Birds of prey may have trouble holding their catch

Over the last 30 days, I had the great opportunity to cover three walleye tournaments in our area, and while awaiting the participants to weigh-in their fish, I often had the opportunity to meet many new people who talked about a number of subjects. Most of the conversations I heard pertained to fishing or the outdoors. Here are a few that you might find interesting.

On Friday, Aug. 3, while fishing with Captain Zen Olow and Ron Drozdziel, we observed a hawk, or possibly an osprey, dive bomb into the water near the NRG departure channel and pick up a silvery colored fish. The fish was dropped by the raptor, so we continued to watch and see if the bird would return to pick up the fish, which we assumed might still be floating. Not one but two birds appeared and snatched up a fish and took flight. The two birds though appeared to be eagles. It was pretty cool to watch the spectacle.

On Sunday, while awaiting the first anglers to come weigh-in their fish, a discussion about the eagles came up and Russ Tenamore, who works for the city of Dunkirk, commented that the guys who mow lawns in various parks in the city will find fish inland. They surmise that once again raptors probably latch onto a fish and lose their grip and drop the fish onshore.

In a publication issued by the Cassadaga Lakes Association, I remember reading about wildlife that can be seen around the Cassadaga Lakes area and osprey were mentioned. The report stated osprey have extremely sharp talons and will sometimes latch onto a fish that will be too big for the bird to handle. They are sometimes unable to detach from the fish and will perish in the attempt.

There are also a lot of turkey vultures hanging around the shore front and on most days you can spot a dozen or so along Cedar Beach. Other times you can see a few roosting or circling the smoke stacks of the NRG power station. While fishing with Erie County Commissioner of Planning, Maria Whyte, her son Liam and captain Don Walter, of Eerie Eyes Charters, and his first mate Jim Sprague, we pointed out the number of cormorants sitting on the outer breakwall. I told the Whytes how cormorants are considered a protected bird that can have a negative impact on game fish and the environment. The birds have an appetite for fish and will congregate in such numbers that their feces can obliterate vegetation in their roosting area.

Later, while cleaning our fish, it was brought to my attention that one of the resident geese, a white and gray farm goose, has a hook protruding from the yellow knob on it’s forehead. Maybe a wildlife rehabilitator can help relieve the bird’s misery. It hangs out by the Dunkirk fish cleaning station.

On Sunday, during the Con Club Walleye Derby, I spoke with Rick and Michelle Chappus, from Windsor Ont. On several occasions the friendly couple, who were riding a pair of foldable bicycles, were seen observing the weigh-in process. During the waiting process, I asked them what they thought of our area. Both replied the people are all very nice, especially at the Dunkirk Yacht Club. They rode their sail boat from across the lake and found the weather was a bit too choppy to attempt a return trip. They toured our area along the new bike path which they enjoyed, visited a used book store and were delighted by the area. The Chappus couple are retired from their jobs and are enjoying their time traveling and meeting new people. Come again and bring your friends.

Calendar:

Today is the last day for the Cattaraugus County Sportsmen’s Rendezvous held at the Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds in Little Valley. The show will feature archery, black powder, trapping, fishing, guns, taxidermy dealers, Big Buck displays, live seminars and food. There will be no alcoholic beverages for sale. For more information, call 492-0432. Hours are from 8 a.m.- 3 p.m., This is gearing up to be quite an event. My sources tell me that due to the rising prices of furs, this event is drawing a lot of attention from the outdoors-related industry. Over 100 vendors were already pre-paid to attend with more anticipated. Admission to the event is $5 per car per day.

Upcoming trapping classes: Falconer Rod & Gun Club located on the Buffalo Street extension in Falconer Sept. 25 from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. returning on Sept. 28 (Friday) from 6 p.m.- 10 p.m. Register at first class. Limited to 30 students.

Trapping class at Westfield Fish & Game on Friday, Oct. 4 from 6-10 p.m., and returning on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Call Rich at 595-3917 for a work book. Limited to 35 students.

The Westfield Fish & Game Club, located on Ogden Road, in Westfield, will host hunter safety training course for firearms beginning on Monday, Aug. 12. at 7 p.m. The class will run until 10 p.m., and will resume on Saturday, Aug. 17, at 9 a.m. and run until 4 p.m. Students must attend both days and be at least 12 years old. For more information, call 326-3218. On Sunday, Sept. 15, the club will hold its Memorial Shoot & Gun Raffle.

Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to sports@observertoday.com.