Anecdotal animal-based reports can certainly help our agencies as they keep track of what rare (and not-rare) birds and beasties move about our more wilder areas.
But sometimes a more concentrated effort is needed, an effort that goes beyond those employed by a state park or national forest. It's the 35th season for counting bald eagles in the San Jacinto and San Bernardino Mountains, which means that volunteers are needed for one hour a month.
And what doe those volunteers do? They head for a specified spot and essentially look up, keeping maps and data sheets nearby. At the last counting day, in early January, a dozen bald eagles were spotted in the Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear, Lake Hemet, Lake Silverwood, and Lake Perris areas (by some 183 volunteers, many of whom saw one of the eagles).
Eager to try your hand -- or, er, eyes? -- at this unique, nature-nice form of voluntarism? The next watch-the-skies day is up on Saturday, Feb. 9, and most of the meeting times are at 8 a.m. or just a bit later. A "brief orientation" will be a part of the morning, so you'll be well-prepped before the watch begins.
There are five places in the mix on Feb. 9. Phone numbers are included here, for more info on the meet-up spot and other matters: Big Bear Lake (909-382-2832); Lake Arrowhead/Lake Gregory (909-382-2832); Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area (760-389-2303); Lake Hemet (909-382-2935); and Lake Perris State Recreation Area (951-940-5600).
And, yes indeed, there's a theme here: lakes. Standing near a lake on a Saturday morning, looking for bald eagles, sounds like a rather fine, and even noble, way to pass an hour. Good luck, eagle counters.