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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!

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Weekend shots - Who in the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks fishes in a boat at 15°F??

I decided this weekend would probably be my last shot at heading south to see if the eagles are working their way north yet. Ahhhh, getting up a 5:30am on a Sunday. Melinda was having no part of today's early departure so out the door I headed with the stars shining above and visions of eagles feeding below the Alma, WI dam in my head.

Not so fast.

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Yup, FOG! 5°F as I came through the river valley on 494 near the MSP ariport and even more once I turned south out of Red Wing, MN down highway 61 on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi.

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The fog would come and go and I was hoping the forecasted breeze out of the northwest would scour things out to improve the visibility once I got to Alma.

Alma Wisonsin eagles

Once I got to Alma, the fog was quite thick but I could make out a dozen or so eagles attempting to catch fish below the dam. I decided to have a look up top while waiting for the sun to heat things up. From my vantage point at Buena Vista Park high above Alma, all I could see was this:

Alma Wisonsin eagles

If you look closely at the bottom of the photo, you can see some of the rooftops. The river is buried under the dense fog.

Eventually the sun and wind did what they needed and the fog started to thin. I headed back down to the dam and watched as a few eagles came directly overhead when in the direction of the Alma municipal boat ramp I heard what sounded like two outboard motors!

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Are you freakin' kidding???? This boat plus another came shooting through what was left of the fog and started fishing right where the eagles had been feeding!!! Game over as all the birds scattered up and down the river with their feeding routine disrupted. I was NOT happy. After watching these guys go fishless for an hour as the temp rose to 15°, I decided to give up and head back to Red Wing, MN where the first weekend of their Eagle Festival was going on. With temps heading into the low 30's I figured there would be a good turn out.

Red Wing Minnestota Eagle Festival

Well, there was a good turnout of people with their kids anxious to see some eagle action. Too bad there were MORE people fishing! Again right in the area the eagles rest and feed! Look in the large tree in the top left corner. That little black spot on the branch waaaaay upstream was the only eagle to be found in that area. Nice...

Diamond Bluff Wisonsin

At this point I gave up and headed up the Wisconsin side of the river along WI highway 35 towards Prescott. At least the scenery around Diamond Bluff soothed some of the wounds of the day.

Black Dog Road eagles

On the way home around the south end of the Minneapolis metro area, I swung through the Black Dog road area and managed to find this mature eagle sharing a branch with a juvenile.

Black Dog Road eagles

Black Dog Road eagles

Another juvenile (likely almost a year old based on the amount of white still on the underside) soared overhead as this woodpecker went tree to tree looking for food.

Black Dog Road

I noticed most of the eagle nests between Alma, WI and Hastings, MN already had a pair of birds hanging around getting ready for egg laying so I decided to check one of the local nests along the way home between Rockford, MN and Delano, MN.

Wright County Minnesota eagles

Yup. Already there. This shot is using a 500mm with a 2x teleconverter (1000mm f13) plus is heavily cropped. No sense in getting close now until the eaglets are hatched and the weather warms up a little.

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