Today Anne and I drove up to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, to look for bald eagles. The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge was once how Route 66 crossed the Mississippi, but now it is a pedestrian bridge. Trailnet is hosting Eagle Days this weekend. They had lots of activities going on, an educational eagle program, complete with a captive bald eagle, viewing scopes on the Bridge for close-up views of the eagles, re-enactors of the Lewis & Clark expedition, Educational displays and a replica of an eagle’s nest. We saw more then a few bald eagles while crossing the bridge and back.
Today’s header is of an immature bald eagle that flew right over us. It is starting to get white around the head, but not yet on the tail. The above picture shows the city water company’s twin intake towers. You can also see the line of rapids that gives the bridge its name, the chain of rocks. At low water Indians could walk across the Mississippi on these rocks. The picture below is of one of the many educational displays. This one was about Missouri wild birds, one part gruesome, one part fascinating. If the Alpha Predator had seen this display, I’m sure he would have felt intimidated.
After freezing in the wind on the bridge, we decided to drive north to the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. This is a relatively new state park, part of the response to the 1993 flood. The park is all floodplain and in 1993 it was all underwater. Today it acts as floodplain was meant to act. It floods in the spring. It is wetland habitat for birds on both the Missouri and Mississippi flyways. We scoped out about five miles of bike trail in the park and the road from the Chain of Rocks to the park seemed relatively bike friendly. At the actual confluence point you first look across the wide Missouri and then you look across the wide Mississippi, so you end up looking across sort of a double wide. We saw a few more eagles in the park. I’ll leave you with some quotes about these two rivers and their confluence. These were inscribed on park benches at the confluence point.
“… THROUGH A VAST UNKNOWN of barbarism, poured its turbid floods into the bosom of its gentle sister.” Father Jacques Marquette, 1673
“SET OUT … in the presence of many of the Neighboring inhabitants, and proceeding on under a gentle brease up the Missourie …” William Clark, May 14, 1804
“THE MISSISSIPPI, as if astonished at the boldness of an intruder, for a moment recoils … and views in silent majesty the progress of the stranger.” Major Amos Stoddard, War of 1812
“… THE BASIN of the Mississippi is the BODY OF THE NATION.” Mark Twain, 1880
“THE MISSOURI RIVER is too thick to drink and too thin to plow.” Missouri farmers, 1800s to present
Heading home we had a late lunch pizza at Dewey’s. After we got home, I went for a ride in the Park. I got 15 miles.
When Rey was leaving there was a murder of crows making quite a racket, but we could not see any airborne predators in view. But when Carl & I took a 4 mile walk later, running liquor store and post office errands, we saw an eagle scoping out the neighborhood. People often blame coyotes for pet disappearances, but I’ll bet the few neighborhood eagles get their share.
I was thinking of pets as prey when a cute little black and white furball was walking with his owners on the bridge. We did see any eagles actually fishing, but in past years we’ve seen one eagle steal the fish from another in mid-air.