Bald Eagle, Mississippi River, Johnson Slough, Iowa

I went out for another kayak paddle tour on the Mississippi River last Sunday. Johnson Slough paddle trail is in a backwater area about an hour north of Dubuque, Iowa by car. For the first half you have to paddle northwards in the slough against a mild current, then take a sharp turn to the right, and paddle down south in the main channel of the big river, back to the starting point.

No “killer light” this time but a thin overcast made for some soft light. The slough has not much traffic and the wildlife feels obviously comfortable as long you will approach it slowly. This adult Bald Eagle saw me probably already when I came around a bend of Johnson Slough and when I was still more than 200 yards away. It is a lot easier to make a click during winter season, when open water dictates where Bald Eagles will fish and a lot of migrating eagles are present. At this time of the year you only find the birds that nest along the Mississippi River. Sure enough, shortly after I took this picture I saw a juvenile bird changing locations just on the opposite side of the slough.

Hey, 15 years ago, while still living in my home country of Germany, I knew Bald Eagles (Weisskopf-Seeadler) only from TV or nature magazines. Seeing them now any time we want here in the Mississippi Valley is the result of smart decisions for their protection after they have been almost extinct. Reading about that the current administration has 36 proposals to change the ESA (Endangered Species Act), of which nearly one-third are expected to have at least partially negative impacts on conservation, makes me sick. I just hope the people with a broader view about the future of this country have the longer arm.