Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Life Bird -- Golden Eagle

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!

13 comments:

Mary said...

Congratulations, Ruthie. I've seen them at the raptor center and always gasp at their size!

dAwN said...

Congrats! Glad you and Lynne saw this awesome bird!

Susan Gets Native said...

Wooooohoooo!

Marianne, aka Ranger Anna said...

The first time I saw a Golden I thought it was a B52 bomber coming straight at me. Wow! Great pics.

Gaelyn said...

Awesome sighting! I've been told Goldens hang around the canyon but have yet to see one there. Congrats on the lifer!

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

That was %&*#@ AMAZING!!!

It was made all the better by spending the day with you and sharing a perfect lifer!
I'm not sure how I'm going to top that...

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Mare! It was neat to learn more about them and then actually see them in the wild.

Thanks Dawn. We were pretty thrilled too!

Your name came up a couple times yesterday afternoon Susan! ;-)
Wish you could have been there with us too!

They are truly magnificent raptors Marianne. I'm glad you've seen them in the wild too.

Thanks Gaelyn. I hope you get a chance to see some Goldens one of these days.

Thanks for inviting me along on this trip Lynne. I'm sure I wouldn't have gone by myself. I'm so glad the Golden Eagles cooperated by showing up on the field trip too!

Jayne said...

So majestic and beautiful! Happy that you and Lynne got to share this experience!

Bonnie said...

Wow is that amazing!

troutbirder said...

And so close. Way to go Ruthie. I've seen them but this up close and personal...never. We're going to be gone the weekend of the count this year so I'm expecting you and Lynne to do a good job filling in for me. :)

stephen said...

Congratulations on your sitings of the Goldens, and success of seeing another on the life list. It's awesome that you were in the company of such an excellent guide, and wonderful that you were able to share the experience with Lynne.
Very much enjoyed reading of your "Holiday Day" too. Good to see that your yard continues to be delightfully active with a wide array of visitors.

Meggie said...

What a fabulous experience! Smart instructor, glad you went back and got your camera. Great shots.

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Jayne. I'm glad Lynne lives close enough that she could drive down for the afternoon too. We had a really fun time.

Thanks Bonnie!

Thanks Ray. Unfortunately Lynne and I will both be working the weekend of the survey, but now that I know what to look for, I'm sure I'll be checking for them in other places this winter (still need to check them off my Minnesota list!)

Thanks Stephen! Birding is definitely more fun when done with a friend!

Thanks Meggie. Scott really knows his eagles -- I'm glad he was able to take us to see them at just the perfect time.