Friday, January 11, 2019

Feathered Friends - Family Too!

Years ago, Melinda and I stopped by Mississippi Lock and Dam #13 north of Clinton on a cold January day. Most of the River was frozen over, but just below the lock, the flowing water kept ice from forming and the trees lining the far side were filled with bald eagles! Well, at least a couple dozen, where they had retreated to feed on fish and rest up for the next hunting pass over the open water. Hoping to see more, last weekend I returned to Lock & Dam 13 to see what I could see.

Well, there was nary an ice cube, nor any eagles fishing anywhere that could be seen. I had resigned myself to driving 2 hours for nothing, when another car of eagle-watchers came by to look and noted they had seen some 15 miles to the north near Sabula! Shortly after, my sister Linda and her husband Lauren came by to join me, so we loaded my camera gear in their car and headed north!

We'd been given explicit directions where to go, and sure enough, there were a group of bald eagles on the far side of the slough. Not very close, but you could tell what they were with the 500mm lens I'd brought along! Most appeared to be young birds that still had brown heads or hadn't completely transformed to white heads. At left the juvenile on ice was being bothered by the older eagle. At right, this youngster had just swooped down for a fish, but came up empty-clawed!

We were set up in a campground on the south side of the island where Sabula is located. Once parked, we noticed an eagle sitting in the tree next to us! Shown at left, I suspect its another juvenile bald eagle. He didn't pay much attention to us, but we got a pretty good look.

Besides the eagles, there were a few other species. I spotted a very-tardy in departing Great Blue Heron, but he rounded a bend and I lost sight before getting a snapshot. There were a couple flocks of Mallard-looking ducks, looking like they were expending so much energy in flying, wings beating furiously! I'm thinking they were more prey for the eagles if they lost their taste for fish! Got the image of a large group of them at right, in front of a couple tugboats in dry dock...

A couple of my siblings were meeting us for dinner at Manny's in Fulton, IL, and with the extended trip to Sabula, we departed late. Manny's is a pizza and wings place quite popular for the locals. Wasn't much in the way of lo-carbs that I'm partaking in lately - about the only choice was a Caesar salad with grilled chicken. It was great! At left, that's brother Brian at left, Sister Kathy in the middle and Linda at right. Brother Jim was occupied that night and Baby sister Sheri now lives in Alabama.  Our meetings always seem to revolve around eating, but at least we get together regularly! It was a fun daytrip!

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