Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Backyard Golden Eagle in Buffalo County Wisconsin

Golden Eagle - Buffalo County, Wisconsin

With the thermometer pushing 50º F this morning and all the reports of migrating waterfowl, songbirds and raptors, I decided to head down to Tell Lake near Alma, Wisconsin to look for ducks in the backwaters of the Buffalo River.  Instead of turning on State Road 25, I decided to take the "scenic route," County K.   That's when I spotted an odd looking eagle, chased up from the Misha Mokwa Creek behind my house by a pair of crows. At first I thought it might be a Turkey Vulture.  Then it hit me:  it's a Golden Eagle!

Red-tailed Hawk and Golden Eagle

Tom and I watched as it flew over the coulees, leaving the crows behind as it caught up with a Red-tailed Hawk floating on a thermal.   The golden was so fast, it disappeared before I could get a good picture.  Undaunted, I headed towards the coulees in pursuit.  Zoom Zoom. 

We never caught up with that eagle, but we did spot dozens of Bald Eagles on Co. V, hopping from thermal to thermal as they headed north.  We headed down Lindstrom Valley Road and back to County K.  At the turn to Little Bear Creek Road, we spotted a kestrel and another raptor, floating just above the road:  our FOY (first of the year) Harrier.  And right before our eyes, he caught a rodent.

Harrier catches a rodent

male Harrier

We continued on our way, through the coulees on County II.  The skies were full of raptors - Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks and another big surprise:  a Red-shouldered Hawk sitting on a utility wire.

Red-shouldered Hawk

This is one of the best looks at a Red-shouldered Hawk I've had in Buffalo County.   But it wouldn't look at me.  The bird sat on the wire for 5 minutes.  We had our eyes on it - and it had its eye on whatever was flying overhead.

Red-shouldered Hawk on Buffalo Co. I

No frogs, chimpmunks or voles in sight, it took off.  Then we took off.  More red-tails, Wild Turkeys in the cornfields, White-tailed Deer everywhere.

When we arrived at the Buffalo River, I rolled down my window.  Honk, Honk.  Canada Geese overhead.

Then we heard bugling of Sandhill Cranes!

Sandhill Cranes on the Buffalo River
Canada Geese & Sandhill Crane Family at Tell Farm

And the muted whistling of Tundra Swans!  Spring is here - finally.

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