Beaver Lake Eagle Watch Weekend coming in January

Thursday, December 29, 2005

EUREKA SPRINGS -- The 13th annual Beaver Lake Eagle Watch Weekend is scheduled for Jan. 27-29, with cruises departing from Rocky Branch Marina.

In the event of snow or ice, activities will move to Feb. 3-5.

A portion of each ticket for the cruises aboard the Belle of the Ozarks is donated to Morning Star Rehabilitation Center, a non-profit organization. Participation in the event will help provide food, shelter and flight cages for birds and animals in need of rehabilitation.

Reservations are required for all cruises and must be pre-paid to guarantee seating. Admission is $17 for adults and $7 for children under 12 years of age.

Cruises will be narrated by experienced area nature guides discussing birds of prey and other wildlife sighted. Mature and immature birds are expected to be seen during their winter social period, with exciting aerial displays.

On Jan. 27, the 10 a.m. cruise will be narrated by Flip Putthoff, outdoor writer and photographer with The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas; guide for the 1 p.m. cruise will be Jim Helt of Environmental Designs Solutions; and the 3 p.m. guide will be Alan Bland of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Captain Jay Viator will be at the helm for each of the two-hour cruises.

On Jan. 28, tours are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. with Doug James, biology professor at the University of Arkansas, who is widely published in the fields of ornithology and ecology; and at 3 p.m. with Bland, who takes the Corps of Engineers Eagle Count on Beaver Lake.

Viator anticipates getting within 100 feet of eagles in some areas, as guides cover detailed information regarding their habits and features.

Also on Jan. 28, a buffet dinner, $12.50 for adults and $4.50 for children under 12, will be held at Prairie Creek Steak and Seafood Co. on Ark. Hwy. 12, and Lynn Sciumbato will speak at 7 p.m. on birds of prey and wildlife rehabilitation, with many of her birds on hand. An Owl Prowl will follow, guided by Bob Ross.

On Jan. 29, Putthoff will guide the 10 a.m. cruise, Sciumbato will guide the 1 p.m. cruise, and Bland will guide the 3 p.m. cruise.

Viator will take the Belle of the Ozarks into hollows backing into Hobbs State Park where Bald Eagles gather during the winter for hunting fish and other prey.

A week before, a new event for scouting and school groups is planned on Jan 21, with cruises departing at 10 a.m., and 1 and 3 p.m.

Participants should dress in layers with hat or hooded coat, gloves, warm socks and footwear. Pocket warmers, camera and binoculars are handy to bring aboard.

To make reservations early, write Mary Anne Viator, 354 CR 146, Eureka Springs, AR 72632; telephone her at (479) 253-6200 or (800) 552-3803; or e-mail viator@ipa.net.

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