The weather was pretty nice today, so we decided it would be a good day to take a drive down towards the Mississippi and see if we could spot some eagles and any other interesting birds. Here's the report of what we saw today. We drove up to Lake City and then headed south on Highway 61 (Minnesota's Gret River Road).
Fortunately, traffic wasn't too heavy this afternoon and there are several pull-outs along the highway where we can get some good looks at the river and birds. This is the Mississippi completely frozen over.
The hills on the other side of the river are Wisconsin and the Canadian Pacific railroad tracks run along both sides of the river.
There was one really large spot of open water right in front of one of the pull-outs, so I was able to get out and take some pictures. Here's an adult Bald Eagle perched in one of the trees along the river. There were lots of ducks swimming around in this open water too.
There were at least 10 eagles (both adults and sub-adults) flying around here, in addition to several other eagles we saw perched in trees and sitting on the edge of the ice.
It was fun watching the eagles swoop down close to the water over the ducks and the ducks disappearing under the water to stay out of the eagle's talons. I'm not sure whether the eagles really like to eat ducks or if they were just messin' with the ducks for some entertainment.
There were lots of different ducks out here, but they were quite a ways out there and it was just too cold for me to set up the spotting scope and spend much time trying to identify them. I could tell from the quacks that there were some mallards there. I also noticed some Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneyes.
While we were there a Canadian Pacific freight train came by pulling a bunch of tanker cars filled with what we thought was ethanol.
OK, time to get back in the truck to get warmed up and find some more birds. Our next stop was some open water down by Read's Landing where I spotted these swans. Holy crap, swans?
There were at least 8 of these swans in this area and I think they were Trumpeter Swans. What do you think?
We continued down to Wabasha where we crossed the bridge over to Wisconsin and headed south towards Alma and the open water at the lock & dam there. I was surprised to see swans in the open water at Alma too. Unfortunately, it was getting late in the afternoon and the sun was at the wrong angle for me to get any decent pictures. but I this these might be Tundra Swans. They were that grayish color similar to the juvenile Tundra Swans we saw on the Mississippi last November during their migration.
There were quite a few ducks in the water here too, but the light wasn't right for me to be able to identify any of them.
However, there were quite a few Bald Eagles in this area too. We saw at least 12 sitting on the ice at the edge of the open water in addition to a few soaring around.
But the coolest thing we saw here was when we started looking at the trees on the other side of the river and saw that there were Bald Eagles perched in a number of trees. I counted 11 Bald Eagles perched in this one tree!
This reminds me of eagle pictures I've seen from Alaska....we were so amazed to see so many Bald Eagles here in Minnesota and Wisconsin.