Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bald Eagles @Lake Pepin, Reads Landing and Colvill Park

Bald Eagle north of Reads Landing, Minnesota

After two days of howling wind and snow squalls, I welcomed today's blue sky and sunshine.

I headed up the road to the Maxville Alternative High School to check out the deer carcass strung up in their yard.  The chickadees and Downy Woodpeckers were still working on it.  Juncos shared the thistle feeder with the goldfinches, and the little Red-breasted Nuthatch "owned" the peanut suet feeder.

After an hour of bird whispering and watching, I headed home for lunch.  Driving out of the school parking lot, I looked to the left and spotted a Bald Eagle a dozen yards away - flying west, parallel to my car.  I looked at her, thinking - can I pull over and get my camera focused fast enough?  Not a chance.

As she flew, she turned her head and looked me, looking at her.  It was as if she was challenging me to a race.  Then I thought, okay... forget the camera, I'll clock you.  She flew about half a mile, before cutting in front of me and heading north to the Chippewa River Bottoms.  My Prius computer had her going an effortless 35 mph.

As I pulled into my driveway minutes later, I knew what I'd be doing the rest of the day:  eagle-watching.

Nothing at the Wabasha waterfront, but there were plenty of Bald Eagles at Reads Landing.  And the    Trumpeter Swans hadn't left.  A dozen were feeding in the bottoms.

Eagles and Trumpeter Swans at Reads Landing

I hit the jackpot at the overlook between Reads Landing and Camp Lacupolis.  There were lots of eagles - fishing, flying and perched - all along the open channel.

The last stop was Colvill Park on the south side of Red Wing, MN.  I was surprised to see the River channel open - and the cooling lagoon by the power plant (where, in the past, I've seen trees literally full of roosting raptors) frozen over.  Nothing happening there.

I crossed the Mississippi at Red Wing, and drove home on the Wisconsin side at sunset.

 Looking south at the Wisconsin bluffs and ice houses 
on the Upper Mississippi River north of Lake Pepin

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