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Iowa (and Illinois) Part V
Eagles along the Mississippi, January 22-25, 2008
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After this week's trip to the Mississippi River, I'm still looking for that perfect eagle photo snatching a big fish from the water. But I did get a few images worth reviewing.

Juvenile with a big fish.
Juvenile with a big fish.

Now that I'm unemployed and living in the Midwest, thankfully this trip did not require a visit to Logan Airport. It did require a drive across Iowa to get to my favorite eagle-watching spot at Lock and Dam 18 in Illinois just across the bridge from Burlington, Iowa. Conditions were just about perfect when I arrived at dawn on Wednesday, and there were as many eagles there as I have ever seen, perhaps 500. However, it started clouding over later on, and by midafternoon it was snowing. It cleared off overnight, and Thursday was mostly clear but much colder, around zero.

I was at #18 Thursday at dawn again, then drove down to Keokuk to see what was happening at the waterfront there. Although there were only a few dozen eagles, Keokuk may be the best place to see eagles roosting in town. There are a couple trees along the waterfront that provide opportunities to photograph the eagles landing and taking off. The photo at left shows a juvenile bald eagle lugging a really big fish back to its roost.

Eagle eating fish.
Eagle eating fish.

In the afternoon I went back to #18, and the best shots of an eagle at roost came late in the afternoon as I was flightshooting in the parking lot. I looked behind me and saw the eagle at right chewing on a fish.

On my drive across Iowa, I also stopped at Neal Smith NWR just east of Des Moines. They have a bison herd there and I've included a couple shots from there. They also have elk, but they must have been hidden in the trees. Bison and elk in Iowa, who knew?

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Photos 1998-2007 by Thomas O'Neil