May 19, 2014 Scenic Beach State Park, Washington

Bald eagle heading for the trees for lunch
Bald eagle heading for the trees for lunch

A Great Day for Eagles

And Yet More  #!*:^!  From Winegard

I apologize up front for the length of this post. The first section probably should just be skipped by anyone not about to make a purchase of a Winegard product, I just have to rant ( and document ) to get some of the frustration out of system before these people drive me over the edge.

The second part however, is lengthy as the result of one of the most exciting days of wildlife photography I have yet experienced, and, yes, there are a lot of images and it may take some time to load, but I just couldn’t help myself, there were a few more decent images captured today than I usually manage.

The Battle With Winegard Drags On

This morning I received an email from Winegard regarding my appointment tomorrow at Clear Creek RV in Silverdale ( to replace the reflector and arm on my Winegard TravLer satellite system ) telling me that the parts from Winegard wouldn’t be there in time for this appointment made 8 days earlier. It seems no one at Winegard cares enough to see that the parts get shipped out in a timely manner for a customer who already is completely fed up with the company’s total disregard for their customers, especially a troublesome customer already working on his 4th defective system in a year.

It would seem that 8 days notice to Winegard’s Customer Relations Manager, who personally requested that I work through him alone after all the previous poor performance of Winegard service personnel, should have been enough to get the job done, but what do I know. Since he was well aware that this customer has already been through many of corporate Winegard‘s circles of Hell ( as I said, working on a fourth replacement system in less than a year ), maybe he could have overnighted the parts to Clear Creek when he discovered that they weren’t going to get out of the Winegard system in time, but, no that would have been an unnecessary expense, against Winegard company policy. Much better for the company to have the customer wait around for 2 more weeks for the next available appointment with the service center ( it is the week before Memorial Day and their Clear Creek RV’s service department is swamped ). The fact that this may be inconvenient and add a lot of additional expense to the customer simply is not a consideration of Winegard’s.

Soaring bald eagle
Soaring bald eagle

I insert this image just to keep you interested, many more shots below!

In a lengthy, and very informative discussion with the service manager at Clear Creek RV ( I drove in to Silverdale to let them know, in person, that I was going to have to cancel my appointment for tomorrow ), I found that I was going to have to pay for the warranty work anyhow since Winegard treats their service dealers as badly as they do their customers. He apologized for having to insist that all Winegard customers having warranty work done on their systems at Clear Creek RV would have to pay for the work upfront and then chase after Winegard for reimbursement, since the service center has to pull teeth and then wait 8 to 10 months to ever be paid by Winegard. I can’t fault the service center for this, it is just good business sense when dealing with an outfit as pathetic as Winegard is surely revealing itself to be.

I pay $160/month for DirecTv high definition service. In the 10 months I have been on the road fulltime in my RV, I have been without service because of defective Winegard equipment for more than two of those ten months ( so far! ), that’s $330 out of my pocket, wasted. In addition, I have spent over 40 hours of my time, personally replacing parts, personally replacing an entire turret system, sending emails, waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for replies, waiting for phone calls that are never to come, driving to service centers and waiting while the system is replaced, and making appointments that can’t be kept because of the Winegard Company’s failure to deliver parts on time. Without a doubt, this is the absolute worst waste of my hard earned money ( $2400 installed new in April of 2013 ) that I have ever spent in 66 years. How a company that treats its customers so poorly can stay in business is a testament to how low our expectations have fallen over the years.

Winegard, this is disgraceful! To all of you out there perhaps considering purchasing a Winegard product, don’t say you haven’t been forewarned!

Eagles, Eagles, Eagles !

Bald eagle landing amongst the oysters
Bald eagle landing amongst the oysters

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version. And yes, a lot of them are worth checking out!

Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagles in tree
Browsing the menu

The eagles sit in the trees along the shore looking for a heron to snag a fish.

Bald eagle looking for a lunch to steal
Bald eagle looking for a lunch to steal

When they see a catch, they are instantly on the poor heron, forcing it to give up it’s catch.

Eagle stealing from Heron
Eagle stealing from Heron

The heron drops his catch in the middle image above.

A double steal
A double steal

After the eagle steals the fish from the heron, the game is on and he has to run the gauntlet of other eagles trying to steal it from him.

Bald eagle chase
Bald eagle chase

When there is no thievery going on, I’ll shoot the eagles soaring above.

Soaring bald eagle
Soaring bald eagle
Soaring bald eagle
Soaring bald eagle
Soaring bald eagle
Soaring bald eagle
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once in a while the eagles will actually go out and grab a fish from the water themselves, but they do seem to prefer to let the herons do the dirty work for them.

Bald eagle and crow
Bald eagle and crow
Bald eagle and crow
Bald eagle and crow
Bald eagle and crow
Bald eagle and crow

This guy had a crow escort, I guess in case he dropped a morsel.

Meet “Frank”

Frank announcing his presence
Frank announcing his presence

Frank is the name the locals have given this one-eyed, leucistic bald eagle.

Frank announcing his presence
Frank announcing his presence

Frank may appear to regularly be visiting the wrong floor of a two story outhouse, but I am told his irregular white feathers are the result of a genetic condition termed leucisticism.

Two story outhouse
Two story outhouse

And yes, two story outhouses do, or did, exist!

Despite his afflictions, Frank seems to be getting along pretty well, he steals his fair share of sculpin from the herons, though usually seems to end up on the losing side of hie food battles with the other eagles.

Moving in to steal Frank's fish
Moving in to steal Frank’s fish
Frank being blindsided
Frank being blindsided
Frank driven off his fish
Frank driven off his fish

The other eagles do not miss a thing. They always attack Frank from the left, his ” blindside “.

Frank's handicap
Frank’s handicap

In this flyover shot, you can see Frank’s non functioning left eye. I have no idea how  he can nab fish from the water, since without a second eye, he must not have any depth perception, perhaps that is why I have yet to see him do any fishing.

Frank in flight
Frank in flight

Frank is still a majestic, handsome bird, you just have to remember to shoot him from his ” good side “.

Going after Junior's fish
Going after Junior’s fish
Stealing from Junior
Stealing from Junior 

These are the shots I am really here to get! The aerial action shots. Although they occur with some regularity, they usually happen just out of range. Once in a while, you get lucky.

Bald eagle with sculpin
Bald eagle with sculpin
Bald eagle heading for the trees for lunch
Bald eagle heading for the trees for lunch
Eagle flyover portrait
Eagle flyover portrait

From my position on the beach, I am able to get some pretty close shots of the eagles as they fly over me heading back up into the trees to devour their fish uninterrupted by their counterparts.

All in all, one of the best days I have ever encountered doing this, great light, wonderful weather, good friends, and plenty of action. And the locals tell me the best is yet to come, the action really heats up in June!

Bald eagle landing on the oyster bed
Bald eagle landing on the oyster bed
Bald eagle on the hunt
Bald eagle on the hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 24, 2014 New Orleans, Louisiana

Finally a Working Winegard Satellite Dish!

Yet another grey, overcast day as I pack up the motorhome to head into New Orleans, technically I guess it is Metairie, to Bent’s RV to have a new Winegard satellite system installed. Hopefully this will be the end of this sad chapter. I have mixed feelings about Winegard’s response through this mess. On one hand, they did respond to every call made to them in a somewhat reasonable amount of time, have to give them credit for that. Yet the fact that it took an entire month to resolve this issue is very frustrating, it really seems that they could have gotten this resolved a lot sooner.

I made it into the shop with no problems and after doing the necessary paperwork, they commenced the replacement. With the aid of a forklift to hoist components up and down from the motorhome roof, I can tell you they had an easier time of it than I did on my own at the campground. Although they had the entire new system shipped to them, they actually only replaced the turret, reflector and LNB head. All of the interior components and wiring were not replaced and I had no real problem with that since the system did fire up and lock on a signal on the first try. Now here’s hoping I get more than 7 months of use out of this new system.

With a pretty dismal weather forecast for the next week or so, I made the decision to sit tight here at Bayou Segnette for another 4 nights before heading on to Florida to establish domicile, register vehicles, and get a Florida driver’s license. I reserved a site for four nights at a KOA in Milton, Florida, not too far from Crestview, where I hope to be able to get all my Florida paperwork done in just a day or two. I would normally never stay at a pricey KOA but it was difficult to find any place to stay during this time period, Florida seems to be filled with those damn snowbirds, and couldn’t leave space for just this one additional one.

I have reservations back at Goose Island, Texas for a couple of weeks starting March 9th so I hope it doesn’t take more than a few days to get this Florida stuff done.

 

February 17, 2014 Grand Isle, Louisiana

Black crowned night heron returning to roost
Black crowned night heron returning to roost

Some Nice Shots Inside the State Park

I was able to get some nice shots this morning at sunrise of the black crowned night heron at the park entrance flying back to his roost. Also found an osprey, a white ibis devouring a crab, and a tri color heron, all inside the park.

As always, just click on any image to get a larger, sharper version.

Tri colored heron
Tri colored heron
yellow helicopter
A different kind of bird overhead

One of the disadvantages of this campground is the almost constant noise of oil support vessels and helicopters roaring about 24 hours a day delivering goods and workers to the offshore rigs.

Osprey at the sushi bar
Osprey at the sushi bar

 

 

Black crowned night heron yawning
Black crowned night heron yawning
Black crowned night heron
Black crowned night heron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White ibis with crab
White ibis with crab

 

White ibis with crab
White ibis with crab

The Winegard Saga Continues

Later, I got in touch with Winegard and was told that the “AZ motor stalled” error message I got after the last fix, wasn’t good, and that I probably will need a second replacement unit. He suggested, as a very last resort, that I manually stow it and then power up and recalibrate. So, up on the roof yet again and manually stowed the unit. Back down and turned the power on and recalibrated the system, all to no avail. At this point, I am fed up with this process, so I went on the internet to find an authorized Winegard dealer around New Orleans and it turns out there is one in Metarie. I called Winegard one last time, waited two hours for the call to be returned, told them I was done fooling around with their system and I wanted the entire system replaced by the dealer in Metarie. They actually agreed to do just that, so, I now have an appointment for 8 AM next Monday to finally ( I hope ) get this sorry experience behind me.

OhNoMyKeyboardQuit!

In the middle of all this, my Mac keyboard began dying this AM. First, the “i” key failed. OK, “me” can work around that. Uh oh, now the comma key won’t work well that’s not good but lots of people don’t punctuate all that well so “me” can live with that “me” guess. Oh crap now the “8” the ”i” the ”k” and the comma all don’t worc plus now a row of numerals also has qu1t.Reallynowthespacekeyhasqu1t.T1meforanewkeyboard“me”guess!Nosatell1tteTVandnowno wayto1ntell1gentlycommun1catebyema1lorsearchthe1nternetfor1nfojustwonderful!

Black crowned night heron returning to roost
Black crowned night heron returning to roost
Osprey at the sushi bar
Osprey at the sushi bar
Black crowned night heron returning to roost
Black crowned night heron returning to roost

 

 

 

 

Black crowned night heron returning to roost
Black crowned night heron returning to roost
Black crowned night heron returning to roost
Black crowned night heron returning to roost

 

 

 

 

 

February 12, 2014 Grand Isle, Louisiana

More on the Winegard Satellite Dish Saga

Not really much to report as the weather has ceased all outdoor activity for a few days.

Rain, rain, rain, thunder, lightning, and driving rains last night. Campground more than a little flooded this AM, in fact right now there is a flock of 20 or so White Ibis feeding all around the motorhome in the pools of water where yesterday there was grass. Still, it is so much better here than places north, so I am not complaining.

Picked up my 47 lb. replacement satellite turret at the entrance station, but with the weather will wait to attempt install later. I will have to hope the maintenance staff here at the campground will lend me a ladder to get this thing up on the roof, no way to carry it up the motorhome mounted ladder, too big, too heavy. Instructions look doable but really think Winegard is asking a little much of the end consumer to take this replacement on, not really having any idea as to the abilities of an unknown entity, that would be me, seems weird. I can understand a coax cable replacement, probably even the LNB head replacement, but this may be a little much.

Also, I received a return mailing label in the boxed replacement turret, so, apparently I am to return the old unit, I guess, since there is no correspondence asking me to do so. This box weighs 47 pounds, measures about 3+ feet by 3+ feet by 1+ foot, large enough that I have no where to put it in the motorhome while I wait to do the work. It barely fit in the back of the Prius to get it back to the RV. Also, because of the size and weight, the box has about 100 staples and two shipping straps to hold it together. I have no idea how I am supposed to duplicate that packaging here in my motorhome, since very few RV’ers possess a box stapler or banding machine, certainly, I don’t. Nice of Winegard to send the warranteed part I suppose, but they seem to want to get this done on the cheap by not involving any tech labor charges I suppose.