It took us a long time to notice
them, but across the Mississippi from here there were more than just
stuffed toy eagles at Lock & Dam #13.
Click each thumbnail for a larger image
or to view slideshow.
It was hard to still-shoot eagles so
sometimes we tried grainy video.
a gray and icy Wed., February 12, 2014, temps in the upper 10's.
Explored: Northwest IIllinois
Mississippi Pallisades SP (Savanna,
IL): 1;Lock & Dam #13 (Fulton, IL): 5; Lock & Dam
#14 (Hampton, IL): 5 for a total of 11. (This is a
loss of 6 from last year.)
Saw way more red-tailed hawks than bald eagles this year.
successful hunt here.
The 2014 winter was brutal and the snow was
record-level deep across the Midwest. It took a long time to find a day
suitable for standing outside for even a minute or two. Finding openings
in the ice was tougher than ever for us and the eagles. In mid-February
a bit of a warm spell hit, if you count temps in the teens to be warm.
It was enough to break up some of the ice around
certain dams. Our search this year went further south than in year's
past because dams in the north were blocked solid. We were led by
Army Corps of Engineers' eagle count this year to new hunting spots.
While we saw almost as many eagles as we did last year, they were all
far away and hard to photograph.
We began by walking the historic streets of
Galena looking for apples and goodies to reward us for the long
car ride across northern Illinois. Usually we head west from here, but
this time we rode south along the dangerous curves of Blackjack
past the Chestnut Mountain Resort into the hills and bluffs. We stopped
at Savanna, IL, to look for eagles from atop the bluffs at
Mississippi Palisades SP. We did find one juvenile here chowing
down on a fish in a tree near the entrance to the park. Across the
river are islands and bayous, but everything was packed solid in ice,
even the once eagle-laden Sabula Island.
So we continued southward, eventually landing upon
Lock & Dam #13 near Fulton, IL. At first, we saw
nothing, but upon third glance through binoculars we spotted a whole
bunch of eagles sitting in trees and flying across the river. Some were
fishing the small break in the ice at the dam wall. They were all very
far away, but seeing them glide around made it all worthwhile.
We were losing daylight so we raced south into the
Quad Cities and Lock & Dam #14 at Hampton, IL. In
the forest preserve that surrounds the dam, we heard eagles singing and
saw them flying like ghosts in the dusky sky. Here, so far south, the
river was mostly ice free and there were probably more eagles than
anywhere on the trip, but the sun left us unable to see them. As
darkness took over, we were forced to head home across I-88 until 2015's