Sunday’s weather was clear and bright here in Saint Louis, not a cloud in the sky. It also dawned rather cold, so Anne and I elected to go birding instead of biking. We drove up to the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Our first stop was at Teal Pond. There were lots of Trumpeter Swans on the pond, but they were just sitting on the ice or swimming around their little hole out in the middle of the ice.
We walked down the road to Pintail Pond and then headed cross-country through the frozen marsh and the head tall grasses. Our objective was another large flock of Trumpeter Swans. We worked ourselves pretty close to them and got some good photos and video. Then suddenly they spooked and flew off.
Returning to the car we drove down to the Mel Price Lock and Dam. There was at least another hundred Trumpeter Swans in the eastern end of Ellis Bay. Anne counted nine Bald Eagles around the lock, but they were all far enough away that their pictures appeared as just little black specks. We also saw a pair of pelicans.
On our way out of the Riverlands we stopped off at the visitor’s center. Telescopes are setup in the conference room for bird watching. Anne saw a hawk in a nearby tree and I trained one of the telescopes on it. It kept its back to us until just before it took off; I got a good look at its face. I knew that I had never seen this bird before. It took off, flew a little bit, hovered and then dove on some unsuspecting rodent in the grass. There was a Sibley’s in the conference room. It was an American Kestrel.
We crossed over to Alton and went to Fast Eddie’s Bon Air for lunch. Some think of Fast Eddie’s as a biker bar. In warmer weather motorcycles ring the building. When I bicycle to Alton I have been known to stop there too. Their trade is cash based. The menu is simple, we had burgers and fries.
Leaving Alton and heading south on IL-143, Anne saw a Bald Eagle perched by the side of the road. A couple that we had spoken to back at the lock had told us about this eagle. There were already several cars stopped on both sides of the road, so we stopped too. I crossed four lanes of traffic to get the picture for today’s header. I also shot the picture of its nest.
Our next stop was the National Great River Museum, on the Illinois side of the Mel Price Lock and Dam. They were having an Eagle Days festival. They had a giant inflatable Bald Eagle, a guy dressed up like a Bald Eagle and a real live Bald Eagle named Liberty. Liberty is cared for by the World Bird Sanctuary, which just happens to be in Saint Louis. Liberty had been hit by a car and could not be returned to the wild.
Our last stop on our de facto tour around the Confluence was the Columbia Bottoms Conservation Area. We saw another eagle’s nest there, but that was about it. At this point we were rather tired, so we headed home.
Who is your scary friend in the blue vest?
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