BIRDER'S JOURNAL
January 20 , 2014

SUBJECT: Bald Eagles at Lock and Dam #14 on the Mississippi River

It has become an annual event for me. Every year I make at least one trip to my favorite bald eagle photography spot along the Upper Mississippi River—Lock & Dam #14 near Le Claire, IA. But just when you think you know the behavior patterns of birds, you get hit with a dose of reality. Such is the case this year.

It's not that there are no bald eagles at Lock & Dam 14, it's just that their behavior is different. In previous years, the majority of eagles seemed to roost in the trees directly adjacent to the parking area or the few trees next to the main lock. This year, most are on the other side of the river fishing the main dam. But as of a few days ago they have finally started feeding near the side lock. (A friend of mine who lives in the area thinks it might have to do with how the rollers are set on the dam.) This is the area most coveted by photographers since the fences are low enough that you can actually get unobstructed views of the eagles.

With winds out of the WSW and sunny skies, I made a mad dash for Le Claire, IA. As it turned out , it was a good move. The action was pretty good through the whole afternoon with only a few lulls.

Here are a few pics from the trip. All taken with the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 600mm f/4 L II lens:

bald eagle with fish

A beautiful Bald Eagle fly-by carrying a fish.

 

Bald Eagle fish grab

I was a bit curious about this eagle. He/She has a protrusion on the breast. It did not seem to bother the bird.

 

red-white-blue bald eagle

I liked this shot because of the background. The main dam is in the background: Red roller, White foam and Blue water. How patriotic!

 

Bald Eagle catching fish

I know I've got lots of pictures like these, but they never grow old!

 

Blue Sky Bald Eagle

The best shots of the day are usually between 2:30 and 4:30 in the afternoon as the sun sinks in the SW. The lighting is just superb.

bald eagle attack

Tora! Tora! Tora!

ready to pounce bald eagle

Look at those fish hooks!

checking out the prey bald eagle

More often than not, a bald eagle will look back at its talons to make sure its catch is safely in place.

bald eagle

I always stick around until the last rays of the sun are nearly gone. The lighting just doesn't get any better.

 
 
 
 

—Alan Stankevitz

 

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