Eagle eye

While driving near the Pepacton Reservoir last weekend, reader Lillian Browne snapped the photo above. She writes:

"I was traveling along 206 around the Pepacton Reservoir...and this majestic beauty swooped down in front of me -- two of these beautiful creatures flew in to suggest that a mammoth turkey vulture vacate their hunting lands."

Early March is prime time for eagle-spotting in the Catskills. And the local population is on the rise: In recent years, bald eagles are an increasingly common sight near New York City's vast reservoirs and along the banks of Catskills creeks.

Thanks to a Department of Environmental Conservation program that has been underway since the mid-1970s, bald eagles have made a dramatic recovery in New York State over the last few decades. In 1975, with the species under intense pressure from DDT poisoning and habitat loss, DEC scientists could find only one nesting pair of bald eagles in New York State, and no chicks. In 2010, the agency counted 192 nesting pairs, most of them laying eggs and raising chicks.