From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 30, a navigation course will be offered. The course will cover navigating the old-fashioned way with a map and compass, and using a hand held, global positioning system unit. Expert Mark Clippinger, the park superintendent, will tackle the low-tech map and compass portion of the class. Members of the award-winning Eureka Springs High School E.A.S.T. (Environmental and Spatial Technology) Lab will teach the high-tech GPS part of the day’s training. Bring your own GPS unit or borrow one of nine that the park has. Space is limited, and advanced booking is necessary. Call the Hobbs visitor center front desk at 479-789-5000 for reservations. The cost is $50, and includes handouts and lunch.
Also offered at the park are eagle watch cruises every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday through February. Call the park office for advanced reservations. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12.
According to park interpreters, there’s no need to shy away from the cruises if the weather isn’t sunny and warm. You see more Bald Eagles on overcast, rainy days because Bald Eagles don’t like to fly in that kind of weather. Instead they sit on their roosts, making it much easier for you to see and photograph them.
During last Saturday’s eagle watch cruise on the park’s new 28-foot pontoon boat 34 eagles were spotted on the 9 a.m. trip and 31 on the 3 p.m. trip. On the early trip a rare leucistic-feathered eagle was seen. This rare type looks like an albino. However, it isn’t really. Leucism is a condition characterized by pigment cell defects to skin, hair or feathers during development of animals and humans. So the eagle’s dark feathers ended up white. It is different from albinism in that it is caused by a reduction in all types of skin pigment, not just melanin.