I don’t know what I did. I don’t know if it was clipping my toenails or bending down to pick up some dirty socks that one of the boys gifted us, but I screwed up my back this morning, my lower back that is. Yep, it was a real pain in the ass. I soldiered on, but at times it was difficult. Anne and I, now a pair of gimps, drove up to the Riverlands to attend their Eagle Days and to do some serious birding.
The accompanying photo gallery tells the tale of the day’s take. It was a target rich environment. The recent spate of cold weather has iced over most of the local water and much more to the north. The Kestrel is my proudest shot, all of the other birds I had already photographed. There is a tale to be told about this bird. It was almost the one that got away un-snapped. We were in the Prius, which makes for a great bird blind. It is stealthy quiet and black to boot. We had our scopes trained on an eagle a ways away. I looked up and there right next to the car, on a street sign, not ten feet away was this Kestrel. We fumbled frantically to get a shot off, but it flew away before any pictures could be taken. Later though we re-encounter this bird, not once, but twice, the displayed photograph is the best of the lot.
We had lunch at Just Desserts in Alton. It is fast becoming our favorite Alton eating establishment. Fast Eddies will always be our favorite
biker cyclist bar. It was crowded and we’ve learned from past visits that the reason that they write the day’s menu on a chalkboard is because when they run out of something, they can simply erase it. Consequently, when we placed our luncheon order, we also placed our dessert order, a shared piece of radical cherry pie.
The Riverlands is run by the Corps of Engineers. Since, the Great Flood of 1993 the Corps has gotten religion. If you can’t beat the river, then join it is now more their new motto. ’93 taught the Corps that nature’s wetlands make for pretty good flood control methods. We stopped and spoke with a Corps ranger, who was running a remote spotting scope, away from the maddening crowd. He explained that the Corps now has over 100,000 acres on wetlands that they manage in the greater Saint Louis area. That is a lot of land. He also explained the two kinds of ducks, not male and female, but diving and dabbling. Diving ducks, like the pictured Coots, disappear underwater. The Mallards are representative of dabbling ducks, when they feed; they just stick their heads underwater, but leave their butts above the surface. We’ve all seen duck butts-up in the water before.