CASTRO VALLEY — A pair of bald eagles made a little history here last year by becoming the first of the once endangered species to hatch young at Lake Chabot Regional Park.
Now the couple has hatched a new chick for the second year in a row, reaffirming this park's small role in the nationwide recovery of the species.
The pair also have put Lake Chabot, between Hayward and Oakland, on the map as a public reservoir where patient visitors have a fair chance of seeing bald eagles soaring overhead and swooping down to catch fish for hatchlings.
"We have plenty of fish here for the eagles and our anglers. Five hundred pounds of trout were stocked here the other day," said Dave Riensche, a wildlife biologist with the East Bay Regional Park district. "And we have plenty of material for nests. Our park is a Home Depot for these eagles."
The eagle chick hatched about six weeks ago in a secluded spot high in a dense eucalyptus forest placed off limits to the public to prevent disturbance to the raptors. The chick is expected to fledge, take its first flight, in early July.
The nest isn't easy to find. It's best seen with binoculars or spotting scopes from rental boats, weekend excursion boats, or personal kayaks or canoes on the 315-acre lake.
Hikers at Alder Point on the West Shore Trail at the lake often can catch glimpses of the adult eagles flying around and scooping fish from the lake.
On a boat trip on Lake Chabot last week, Riensche and Mary Malec, a volunteer raptor monitor, spotted the chick poking its head above top of the nest while its fierce-looking mother looked on.
The chick was visible for only a few seconds.
"The chick is doing well," said Malec, who also monitored the first bald eagle nest at Lake Chabot last year some 100 yards away. "The eagles picked a more secluded spot this year with a better view of the lake."
Park officials believe the eagle pair are relatively young adults who produced their first chick last year at Lake Chabot, an emergency water supply for the East Bay Municipal Utility District. That eaglet flew away in the fall to strike out on its own.
Bald eagles were threatened with extinction due to habitat loss, weakening of their egg shells by DDT contamination, killing by humans, and absorption of lead shot in waterfowl they eat.
They were removed from the endangered species list in 2007 as their numbers have slowly increased due to environmental protections and a ban on DDT.
In the last two decades, bald eagles have nested near at least five other reservoirs in the Bay Area, including Lake Del Valle near Livermore, San Pablo Reservoir near Orinda, and Calaveras Reservoir east of Milpitas.
"It's exciting to see these charismatic raptors here that are part of a nationwide environmental success story," Riensche said. "We are proud that our natural resource management has provided them with good habitat."
As part of that management, park officials keep an eye on the birds.
Two fishermen out for a picnic last week were ticketed and ejected from Lake Chabot Regional Park by park police after the men ignored "stay out" signs and landed their boat in a protected area.
"We want people to enjoy viewing the eagles," Riensche said, "but from a distance."
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff
For information about renting a boat at Lake Chabot or taking an hour-long excursion boat tour on weekends, visit norcalfishing.com and click on Lake Chabot.
For information about eagles at Chabot Regional Park, visit www.ebparks.org and click on wildlife, and bald eagle management