Saturday, January 9, 2010

Eagles on the Mississippi: Day 1 Report

By Larry Rogers

LeClaire, Iowa, is a cold place in January.  That fact is one of the factors that brings large numbers of bald eagles to the area.  When we left the hotel this morning, the temperature gauge in my car read "-10 F."  We had agreed in advance that we would not stay out in the cold for more than 30-45 minutes at a stretch.  After all, none of us wanted to be a hero.

A dense fog lay over the water, like an eery scene from a horror film.  When we reached the parking area, I fully expected to be back in the car in a relatively short time.    That is, until I looked up.  The tree line that forms a boundary around the parking area had at least six large adult bald eagles in it.  Instead of parking at the end closest to the dam, I decided to drive down to the opposite end, where several of the eagles were perched in trees right at the edge.

We stopped and stepped out of the cars.  The eagles were screeching at each other in their unmistakable tone.  Looking through the trees, I could spot 4-5 more eagles in flight just around the bend in the river to the right.  About that time, one of those came around to parking lot side, soared overhead, obviously checking us out.  I knew at that point, today would be a good day for eagle viewing.

Photos in this article are courtesy of Eric Curby (Nikon D-80 DSLR, Nikkor 70-200 VR f2.8 lens).

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