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Anything outdoors!  Tornadoes, eagles, blizzards, or auroras.  If it is in the sky, running through the woods or swimming in the water, I'm there!


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Was the groundhog wrong? Is an early spring still possible?

My daughter and I took an early morning trip to the Mississippi River near our home on Sunday to check on our resident eagles and see how the swans were adapting to their welfare program which had restarted again.

The first stop was at Swan Park in Monticello, MN. More swans now than the last time I checked. Got to chat with a pro photog from WI who had made his first trip to Monti to see this rather odd spectacle. Nice guy...but I never got his name or website. After trading eagle stories, Cailyn and I decided to head up river to check a spot I had seen a couple of eagles feeding earlier this month.
It's like synchronized flight for the swans

One more shot of a pair moving in tandem over the open water

Swan squabble as they fight over food and territory evidently

Anyhow, Cailyn and I moved upstream and headed back in on a minimum maintenance road which ends right at the river. My plan was to hike down over the steep bank and see if the eagles were either roosting along the edge of the open water or feeding below a large eddy along that stretch. No sooner had I gotten out of the car when I heard the familiar shriek of an eagle off to my west. In the brilliant morning sun I saw a juvenile bald circling high overhead.

Suddenly two mature eagles appeared low over the field in front of me and headed to a nest which was dormant last season.

The pair seemed pretty content to allow me to hang out near the nest and allow us to observe. We stayed in the vehicle as the eagles are pretty used to seeing cars and trucks and don't get spooked unless someone gets out. The male (assuming since it was much smaller), was very busy moving branches around the rim of the nest.

Periodically he would take off and circle low behind the woodlot the nest is in

He would return a few minutes later carrying a branch which he would add to the rim of the nest.

This pattern continued for the better part of an hour. We decided it was time to head home for lunch and leave the eagles to their task. Seems more than a little early to see this behavior as it was only the first day of February. Maybe the eagles know something the groundhog missed? I am sure hoping they are correct and spring will be here sooner than what that fat rodent tried to predict earlier in the morning.

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