Iowa has an east coast and a west coast since it is bounded by two major rivers. This View From Iowa was about as far east as one can be in the state. We met friends Tom and Sharon in LeClaire along the Mississippi River. Melanie and Sharon did some shopping in a fabric store to stock up on their quilting needs. Jim and Tom visited while sitting in some fancy painted chairs in the front window of the store. We walked down the street for lunch.
After lunch, we drove a short distance along the river to a viewing area below Lock and Dam 14. Bald Eagles congregate there to snatch fish from the water, stunned by their passage over the gates of the dam. Several were soaring above us checking the waters.
Many thanks to Tom for permission to use his photo above and the one at the end of this post. Very nice work, Tom.
By this time of year, the river is often covered with ice except below the dams. Eagles by the hundreds and thousands find these open waters along the Mississippi, and other rivers in the midwest, good food sources. This year has been above freezing lately. There is little ice on the main body of the river. There is some ice along the inlets and bays.
Several Bald Eagles were perched in the two trees at the left. The wind was coming from the right in these photographs. Now and then, a stunned or dead fish would drift from right to left. The eagles would take flight and fly over to see if it was worthy of their effort to snatch it.
Also perched nearby were about 50 people armed with cameras on long telephoto lenses, waiting to begin a frenzy of photos in hopes of capturing the perfect shot. The fish were drifting with the wind right in front of the photographers. Someone brought an ice chest (in the foreground of the photo below) with several dead fish in it. Every 30 minutes he tossed a fish in to lure the eagles.
If the eagles launched, someone would call out to the group of photographers. Shutters whirred while the birds swooped down not 100 feet in front of everyone. My results were so-so. Not enough $$ in my camera equipment.
This brief video clip shows what everyone was watching. In the background sounds are the camera shutters near me. Listen to the vocalizations of the eagles during the last 10 seconds after it settles on the perch near another.
After a few passes, cameras quieted down and the eagles went back to the tree perches. All was quiet as the parties waiting for the passing of another dead fish. What a way to spend an afternoon. It was a good way to enjoy the sunshine on a winter day in Iowa.