The Thursday morning paper announced that the Bald Eagles had returned to Saint Louis. I’d even seen a picture of one in the Park, but I had not seen one and more importantly I did not have a picture of one. So the day’s expedition was already hatching in my noggin, off to the river, across to Illinois and onward to Pere Marquette State Park. Anne and I launched in falling snow, under grey skies. We drove northward all the while trying to keep the car windows from fogging. It must have been the hot breath of our pursuit.
Our first stop was just this side of the Mississippi River at the Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area. This is a wetlands area that is operated by the Corps of Engineers. As we drove into the area, we saw dozens of Trumpeter Swans, Canada Geese and an as yet unidentified species of “duck-like” waterfowl, of which we did not get a good picture. I was going to use a picture of flying swans with this post, but I’ll save it for later. I’m thinking of calling it, White Swans in a Snowstorm. 😉
We stopped at the visitor’s center and were instructed on how to find eagles. Look for them in the tops of trees along the river’s edge. We saw one across the pool, but it was little more than a dot. We drove on to Mel Price Lock. An eagle was fishing below the spillway, but it flew off before we could turn off the engine. We headed back out, but before we got onto the highway we turned off to check out Ellis Island. We saw a pair together in one tree and a third further down the tree line. Any attempt to get closer was foiled by a sign proclaiming that the island was closed to the public as an Eagle Rest Area.
We met a couple there. We lent them our binoculars, so that they could see the eagles too. They repaid us with a great suggestion for lunch, the Fin Inn, Grafton, IL. The fin in the inn is a fish fin. The place is a fish house. Anne and I both had catfish sandwiches. Anne’s applesauce side was to die for. Each booth had a fish tank at one end. Pictured are relatives to the piranha, but these guys are vegan. By the end of the meal though, they were starting to creep me out.
We made it to Pere Marquette and asked the ranger where we might see eagles. He directed us back the way we came to the Brussels Ferry and there next to the ferryman’s building were a pair of bald eagles. Now TMZ may have the scoop on Tiger, but I have even more salacious material on the very symbol of our nation. Look at the header again. Now, cue the music: Bees Do It, Birds Do It …
We wound our way back down the River Road, stopping whenever we saw another eagle. I fruitlessly tramped down an embankment to try to get a better shot. We stopped back at the Grafton Visitor’s Center and were accosted by a troupe of boys. They greeted us with the question, “Did you see any eagles?” We answered their questions, by showing them our pictures. In the gathering gloom we stopped once more in Riverlands. It is there that I snapped my eagle for this post.