Nobody knows the tidal James River like Mike Ostrander. The Richmonder started off as a catfishing guide, and in recent years has expanded his guiding business to include bald eagle and Civil War tours on the James, mostly between the Varina-Enon Bridge and Hopewell.
I’ve done all three with Ostrander, and each was a unique experience. So, here’s a thought: You know that relative or friend that is impossible to shop for, the one that you just end up getting a boring gift card for? Why not buy them an experience they can’t get anywhere else.
Ostrander is offering Eagle Tour Gift Certificates this holiday season. They’re $45 per person, and if you buy one before 9 p.m., Sunday Dec. 22, each certificate holder will receive a free 8×10 glossy photo of one of the James’ resident bald eagles. You can also buy a two-hour eagle cruise for 6 for $250, a $50 discount.
What’s cool about these tours is that you’re guaranteed to see eagles. As Ostrander wrote to me in an email: The James River is the site of the greatest comeback of the bald eagle on the entire continent. Thirty-eight years ago, in 1975, there were no resident bald eagles on the James River. Today, there are over 200 pairs of resident bald eagles on the James River … 200 pairs! These resident eagles live on the James year round and have territories, which they protect and will live out their lives in. The life span of a bald eagle is 25 to 30 years in the wild, and this means we will have them around for a great long while.