Eagle Daze

The Eagle Has Landed

January is Eagle Day season around here. It used to be just one day once a year, but then everyone and their brother got into the act. Now it is a season. This being the first weekend after New Year’s, it doubles as the season’s kickoff. We headed up to the Riverlands to look for some of the 34,000 eagles that annually descend upon us. I am not sure that I believe that figure, but it is what one eagle tourism booster claimed on TV last night. We went to Riverlands where their tote board claimed 42 birds for the day. We saw about six. Anne was still not sure that the number 42 was derived from counting the same six eagles seven times or not. It being Eagle Day, the Audubon Center at the Riverlands was crowded. Their lot was full, and we had to park on the shoulder of the road. There were lots of activities for kids and spotter scopes were setup all around. Even so, the birds had chosen to roost in trees on the far side of the slough, reducing them to small spots, even using the scopes, some with white accents and others that were all brown.

After the Audubon Center, we tried to checkout Mel Price lock and dam, but access to it was closed because of construction. In fact, all North County remains heavily under the sway of orange cone season. We even had to detour around some of it. It is January and all good road construction workers should be off the road by now. Across the slough, on Ellis Island, we got a little closer to the birds and I got this action shot. Out of frame another eagle had caught a fish. Then two more eagles approached with intensions of stealing that fish. This eagle began calling out and bouncing up and down, trying to shoo the newcomers away. Afterwards, we headed across the river to checkout Alton’s eagle day activities. They had a rescued eagle that was posing for photos and by the time we arrived empty food trucks. I was then able to coax Anne into eating a late lunch at Taco Bell. On the way home, it began to graupel (soft hail).

My Just Desserts

My Just Desserts

Today is Anne’s birthday, so we went up to the Riverlands to do some birding together. She could have picked some better weather for the day. It was cool and windy, with occasionally misting rain, which left us out on our own, with no one else about, except for lots and lots of birds. Across the slough, we saw a family of four Bald eagles, the parents and two offspring. A few pelicans were still about, but most of them have already headed north. Speaking of migration, this week lights around the Arch will be left off, so as not to interfere with the spring bird migration. With not too many big birds around, it was left to the little birds to pick up the slack. Notable among the many species seen, were Indigo buntings, which are way bluer than Bluebirds. I also saw a pair of flying lemons, Yellow warblers. We didn’t get in all that many steps before the siren song of lunch began calling us. We head across the Mississippi, into Alton and dined at My Just Desserts. We split the lunch special, a pesto-turkey grilled cheese sandwich, along with a cup of soup. As a sign in the restaurant says, order dessert first, which we did, a slice of Ozark berry pie, containing blue, black and strawberries. After lunch, the rain had picked up again, so we just headed home. A little damp around the edges, but still a very successful birthday outing.


Toxic Waste Dump

Yesterday, I cleaned out of the basement the 30+ years of paints and other toxic chemicals that have accumulated. There was almost 200 pounds of the stuff, pictured above, in the rear of the RAV4. Today, Anne and I drove to the county’s north facility for handling household hazardous waste and dropped the load off there for eventual disposal. It cost more than a hundred dollars to be able to do that. It is a good thing that we did that, because our next stop was the Riverlands bird sanctuary on the Mississippi River. I wouldn’t want to see any of their fowl to become fouled. It appears that the Trumpeter swans have already departed for parts north again. We certainly didn’t see any of them there. Plus, the Corps was conducting controlled burns around the inland pools, where these swans usually hangout and I don’t think that they would do this is the swans were still around. We did see quite a few White pelicans and more than a few Bald eagles, plus various other smaller birds. For lunch, we treated ourselves at Just Desserts, which is in Alton, Illinois. There, we split a chicken salad sandwich and a piece of Cherries in the Snow pie. At Just Desserts, you have to order your pie first.

White Pelican