Eagle Hunt 2012 - 3/5/2012

In the Island City Harbor campground at the southern tip of Sabula, IA, we found ourselves surrounded by perched eagles.
Photo Album: Click each thumbnail for a larger image.

We stopped for a rest and some chocolate on the streets of Galena, IL.

The people of Jo Daviess County are a strange sort.

Dubuque's Lock & Dam #11 was mostly a bust with only a couple sightings far away.

Canada geese in the Mississippi's unfrozen water.

A bunch of eagles we spotted from across the river at Lock & Dam #12.

High over the Mississippi River from a fishing island in the middle of Sabula Lake.

A couple of eagles spotted south of Bellevue, IA.

The amazing view from the bluffs at Savannah SP, IL.

Looking southward along the Mississippi.

Mallards were struggling to fight the current here.

Andrew and Daddy get ready to 'hunt' somewhere else.

An eagle in the harbor at Sabula, IA.

A Sabula campground eagle. There were several perched here.

The view across the waters of Savannah's city campground.

Showing Andrew the benefit of bincoculars.

An eagle flapping strong along the river.

Eagles are very quick in the air.

Looking for an eagle at a city landing in Clinton, IA.

A Sabula eagle is not so sure about us staring at it.

Night falling on our journey across the Upper Mississippi.


Dates: On Pulaski Day in March, 2012, temps in the upper 40's.


Areas Explored: Northwest IIllinois and Driftless Iowa

Transportation: 2009 Grand Caravan

Eagle Count: Lock & Dam #11 (Dubuque): 3.; Lock & Dam #12 (Bellevue): 5; 2 miles south of Bellevue, IA: 1 nest; Sabula Lakes, IA: 1 soaring; City Harbor of Sabula, IA: 7; Israel Day Lake in Sabula, IA: 2; Savannah SP, IL: 2; 30th & 30th in Clinton, IA: 2;  for a total of 22. (This is a gain of 10 from last year.)


See 2011's Eagle Hunt here.


Trip Diary:

All winter prime eagle hunting weather did not present itself. In fact, the March month we were beginning our eagle hunting journey was the warmest in history, including a stretch of temps in the 80's. I held off on the trip in fear that a lack of freeze would hurt our chances of finding eagles easily. It turned out, though, that this year saw the best eagle hunting year in years. Eagles were very active and very widespread across our usual "hunting" grounds from Dubuque, south to Clinton, along the Mississippi River. We stopped at various familiar points along the way including Galena, Dubuque's Lock & Dam, Bellevue's Lock & Dam, and the nest just south of Bellevue that we found last year. Because the days were longer than usual, we had time to add several new spots, which proved very fruitful. These included the chain of Mississippi-fed lakes around Sabula, Iowa, and Savannah, Illinois; a boat launch in the town of Clinton, IA, and the Upper Mississippi NWR.


Probably the best spot was the campground at the southern end of Sabula, where a bunch of perched eagles across a small creek allowed us to get rather close. We kept respectful distances since eagles need to store energy through the tough winter season.


Hey, kids, in places like this, it is best to stay dry.

All photos copyright 2012 by J. Bezold All content copyright 2012 by S. Plencner