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.
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.
After days of bitter cold, it has warmed up some around here. Yesterday, we took advantage of this warmer weather for a little road trip up to the Riverlands. It’s eagle season there now and after initially not seeing any, we did eventually spy two. The pictured one was closest of the two, standing out on the ice. There were some Trumpeter swans about too, but not as many as we’ve seen in the past, but maybe we were there at the wrong time of day. The swans usually leave the Riverlands at dawn, only to return near dusk. They spend their days grazing in the adjacent cornfields. As we were getting ready to head back home, signaling that this might be the case, a thousand Canada geese returned in one giant flock.
Back to the eagles, walking around the Riverlands Audubon center, we came upon an eagle eye test. The first sign said that hundred feet away there was a second sign and inside the red square on it was a picture of some small eagle prey. My first comment was, “What red square? What sign?” Walking down the path, we eventually did see the sign and then the red square and finally the picture of the prey in the middle of it. While most humans, now myself included, have 20/20 vision, eagles have 20/5. This means that they can see an object at twenty feet as well as we can see it at five feet. They also can see further into the UV and the infrared than we can. In the center of our retinas is a fovea, where the light sensing cells in our eyes are concentrated, giving us better eyesight, when looking with that area. Eagles have two fovea, where one is for farsightedness and the other is for nearsightedness. Giving them the best of both worlds. I saw my eye doctor today and after examining me, he told me that both my vision and glaucoma pressure was good. I told him about the eagle eye test that I had failed, and he laughed at that.