Birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts around the area are buzzing again as a pair of bald eagles has returned and is nesting at the Bear Trace Golf Course on the shores of Chickamauga Lake at Harrison Bay State Park. Last year, Bear Trace Golf Superintendent Paul Carter worked diligently to secure funds and coordinate the difficult task of placing a live streaming webcam 75 feet high at the edge of the eagles' nest in a pine tree. The Harrison Bay Eagle Cam is live again this year.
Sadly, as is often the case in the wild, the nest failed to produce young last year. One of the two eggs failed to hatch. The second did hatch, but the eaglet did not survive.
Successful or not, the Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Project is a rare opportunity to get a close-up view of nature at the click of a mouse.
On Jan. 7, the camera caught an amazing sequence as one of the eagles attacked a great horned owl that had taken up residence in the eagle's nest.
"We have been wondering what would happen if both the owl and the eagles encountered each other in the nest at the same time," Carter said. "... I guess we know now."
The Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Project was initially funded by Friends of Harrison Bay State Park, the United States Golf Association Green Section, and the East Tennessee and the Middle Tennessee Golf Course Superintendents Associations.
"I cannot tell you how grateful I am of these organizations to come on board with the project," Carter said. "It is my hope that this project will continue to show how beneficial golf courses can be and give us an up-close view into the nesting habits of American bald eagles."
Though the eagles seem relatively unperturbed by the Bear Trace golfers who play through, visitors are not routinely allowed on the course. Volunteer photographer Bret Douglas, however, recently captured these outstanding images of the birds.
Richard Simms is a contributing writer, focusing on outdoor sports.