I had decided to rev up my new birding hobby by persuading my friend Mr. Science to join me at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha for the annual Golden Eagle Count. To my surprise, Golden Eagles are found wintering here in the Mississippi Valley. Unfortunately, he couldn't make it, so we decided to branch out on our own the following Friday. We stopped by the Eagle Center to get some ideas on routes to take where we might see the Goldens. There were learned that sixty Goldens had been spotted, the previous weekend, in Minn. Iowa, and Wisconsin . On to Wisconsin!!
We made a waystop near Reeds landing where we spotted six Balds and a host of the usual waterfowl including common goldeneyes and Canada geese. Then it was across the Wabasha Bridge over The Big River and south towards Alma. We turned left and headed into the coulee country east of Alma. There we spotted perhaps another half of a dozen Balds in the next couple of hours before we started thinking about lunch. "Where should we go," I asked somewhat naively. "Hey every little town in Wisconsin has at least one bar," I was informed. So there ahead in the distance appeared to be a small crossroads.
As we approached the town's outskirts, I noticed some buildings and a fence line stretching toward the east. "There's a huge flock of crows in the trees on that fence line up ahead," I pointed out . As we approached, the "crows" seemed to be growing in size.
Stopping, we got out and scanned with our binocs. They were definitely Balds and my partner began counting till he reached over fifty. It was then that I noticed what appeared to be a hog confinement building along the road ahead of us. There were also some eagles on the ground in the alfalfa field behind the buildings and adjacent to the fence.We decided to approach closer by pulling the car ahead about a hundred yards. Now we could see clearly behind the building. There were dozens of Balds on the ground, some in a literal pile, where they were swarming and jumping in the air. This reminded me of one of those African documentaries where you see vultures clambering on the dead carcass of an antelope.
We also spotted two birds on the ground somewhat separated from the others that we thought might be Goldens. In the half hour we watched this amazing sight, they never took flight, so we were unable to confirm their identity.Finally, we left drove ahead into town to find (sure enough) a bar and grill. We had lunch with a view, including watching eagles flying back and forth across the highway and roosting in a churchyard next to the bar. . Upon asking our waitress if seeing so many eagles here was a common sight, she informed us that they were "here all winter due to the chicken farm." I am sure there were at least over a hundred eagles in the immediate area. "What an amazing day!"