Today my best birding friend Lynne and I attended a Golden Eagle seminar and field trip at The National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota. After an enjoyable lunch at the local Chinese buffet, we headed back to class at the Eagle Center where we learned about all the differences between Golden and Bald Eagles that would help us become proficient at Golden Eagle identification.
After about an hour of classroom time, we were ready to head out into Golden Eagle country and test our newly acquired ID skills. Hopefully the Golden Eagles would be there waiting for us........ After a short drive to the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi, the first pair of Golden Eagles was spotted perched together in a tree far across the valley. After driving a few more miles, another pair was spotted -- again, quite a distance away.
Fortunately for us, our teacher and Golden Eagle expert Scott Mehus was saving the best for last. On our final stop between 2 bluffs, we were treated to a flyover by not one, but a PAIR of Golden Eagles!As we were getting out of the car at this last stop, Scott said, "this is the place -- you'll want to get your cameras out and ready." "How can he know this?" I wondered to myself. "It's not like he has any control over the appearance of these birds, does he?" Skeptic that I am, I didn't have my camera out when the first Golden Eagle flew over the top of the hill, but you can bet that I scrambled my sorry butt double-time back to the car to get my camera out in time to photograph the second eagle when it flew over the hill a few seconds later!
Turns out Scott didn't control these birds, but he has followed them long enough to know that they roost overnite in this valley and the approximate time they arrive in the late afternoon each day. I snapped pictures until my fingers were numb with cold (it was only about 5 degrees). It was an awesome finale to a wonderful afternoon and I was thrilled to get such wonderful looks at these magnificent raptors. Only 4 days into the new year of 2011 and what a spectacular check-off for my life list!