Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Friday, September 24, 2010

The Day Of The Eagles

I had decided to rev up my new birding hobby three years ago 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 on the appointed Saturday, 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 we learned that over one hundred Goldens had been spotted in Minn. Iowa, and Wisc. the previous weekend. It was on to Wisconsin!! We made a waystop near Reeds landing on the Big River, 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 headed into the coulee country east of Alma Wisconsin. We spotted perhaps another half of a dozen Bald Eagles in the next couple of hours before we started thinking about lunch. "Where can we find a place to eat," I asked somewhat naively. "Hey every town in Wisconsin has at least one bar," I was informed. So there ahead in the distance appeared to be a small crossroads town.
As we approached the town's outskirts I noticed some buildings and a fence line stretching toward the east. "Huge flock of crows in the trees on that fence line up ahead," I noted. As we approached the "crows" seemed to be growing in size. Stopping, we got out and scanned with out binocs. They were definitely Bald Eagles 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. Also there were more eagles on the ground in the alfalfa field behind the buildings and adjacent to the fence.
We decided to approach closer pulling the car ahead a couple hundred yards. Now we could see clearly behind the buildings. Dozens of Balds were 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 drove 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 on a Catholic church adjacent to the bar. Upon asking our waitress if seeing so many eagles was a common sight, she informed us that they were "here all winter due to the chicken farm." She said they flew in each day "by the hundreds from the Mississippi River," which was about ten miles to the west as the crow or should I say in this case the eagle flies. What an amazing day!!!!

8 comments:

  1. A lone bald eagle flying over our soon-to-be mortgaged homestead was the lucky omen that cinched the deal for me. Such an amazing creature. I still believe they hold some magic for anyone who is lucky enough to see them in their natural environment. Love the pics!

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  2. Bald Eagles are so majestic -as are the Goldens. Great fun and exciting when you're lucky enough to see one.

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  3. You are definitely in the "birder" category! :-) Those last photos are wonderful.

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  4. Love your "crows" TB. :) The Golden Eagle has to be one of the most beautiful raptors around.

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  5. Wow... what a memorable day that must have been!

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  6. What a day..I have only seen two at once..feeding on a deer carcass.
    They are not my favorite bird. But many other people seem to enjoy them.
    I hope you are surviving the flooding..it is sunny up here today..finally:)

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  7. Amazing eagle photos! I’m relieved to read that these are old images and it’s not already snowing. We have bald eagles in our town – they fish by the river and are amazing to watch.

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