Sandhill Cranes, Mississippi River, Green Island Wetlands, Iowa

I enjoyed shooting today with my friend Dave Updegraff, who is also an avid photography enthusiast and blog writer. We haven’t done this for a while and it was nice to catch up on things and share thoughts and news. We met in the Green Island Wetlands but I started off my photo trip in Dubuque. It got really warm today and I was surprised that the ice on the 16th Street Basin still covered the pond. I saw more than a dozen Bald Eagles and it took only a few minutes to walk away with the photo below.

There wasn’t much going on in the Green Island Wetlands in the early afternoon and Dave and I drove further south to the “Island City” Sabula, the only town in Iowa that is located on an island In the Mississippi River. Lots of Bald Eagles here as well, mostly sitting on the remaining ice or fighting about fish.

Bald Eagle, 16th Street Basin, Dubuque, Iowa

On the way back we scouted a different road along some backwaters of the river and saw in the distance Common Mergansers, Northern Pintails, and a larger number of Tundra Swans. Spring migration is in full swing already! They were all too far away for a decent photo, but nevertheless, I enjoy the bird watching part as much as the photography.

Dave had to go back home but I wanted to give the Green Island Wetlands another try. And there I found what I was hoping for today, a pair of Sandhill Cranes, foraging in the mud and shallow waters of the marshland. Another sign of a changing season was a pair of Hooded Mergansers. Again, too far away for a good picture (although I make documentary shots for tracking first seasonal appearance over the years). Finally, while on my way out of the wetlands, a huge flock of Red-winged Blackbirds landed in a tree. And this my friends, is here in Iowa for many people a sure sign that spring is knocking on the door…