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Iowa (and Illinois) Part VII
Iowa Eagles and Elk, February 5-6, 2010
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It has not been a great season for eagling in the middle of the country. I wasn't able to squeeze in a trip to Missouri's Squaw Creek NWR in December, and January reports from the dams along the Mississippi indicated open water and low numbers.

Eagle landing
Eagle landing

But I did swing past two of the usual dams, #18 near Burlington, IA and #19 in Keokuk, IA, to see what there was to see. It was overcast and snowing as I drove up to #18 on Feb. 5, and I saw absolutely nothing. Every other year I've been here, I've seen hundreds of eagles.

So I moved on. In Keokuk, there were about four birds in the usual trees on the waterfront. It was still overcast and snowy, and I got a few roosting shots before giving up for the day. It was sunny and clear the next morning. There were about 10 birds in the area, and there were a few good opportunities for flight and roosting shots. I didn't devote nearly the time I have other years, but I did make it and I did get a few images.

On my way home Saturday I stopped at another usual haunt, Neal Smith NWR just east of Des Moines. I've driven through there maybe four times and never saw the supposed elk herd in residence. This time I saw about 17 elk scattered in three places. The larger bulls were laying down and hard to see, so here are a couple of the smaller bulls. So a few of those images also are included in the gallery.

Keokuk Eagle
Keokuk eagle

For what it's worth, another place where I've seen bald eagles this year is Custer State Park in South Dakota. I don't have a lot of images, but here's one. On several different visits I've seen this eagle visits near Highway 87 just north of Wind Cave National Park. Bald eagles usually live on fish, but in this area there are hundreds of prairie dogs and no fish so I'm guessing that this is not a classic fish eagle. I've also seen some golden eagles in western South Dakota, including youngsters in a nest near Quinn.

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Photos 1998-2010 by Thomas O'Neil