Joan and I went for a walk on the Heritage Trail down in the valley of the Little Maquoketa River this evening. We had our little dog Cooper with us and what actually was planned to be a "short dog walk" ended up to be a great bird watching event all evening long. We discovered another nest of a Bald Eagle and were very excited to see a young eagle sitting in there. We had two new first sightings, an American Redstart and a Harris Sparrow. Many Baltimore Orioles were feeding and singing high up in the trees and Goldfinches and Red-winged Blackbirds were everywhere. The low sun and some dramatic clouds made all the colors even more spectacular. It is definitely the best time of the year here in Eastern Iowa, at least in my humble opinion... :-)
My personal highlight was this Belted Kingfisher, a bird I have tried to photograph many times before with very little success. Distance was a bit of a problem again. A fenced pasture between the trail and the river did not allow to get closer to the bird and that's why I cropped the image quite a bit. It is not difficult to find a kingfisher at the Little Maquoketa River, quite often you can hear them before you see them, but they are very skittish and don't make it easy to get close even under better circumstances. However, it is the best shot I was able to make so far and it will make it into my Iowa wildlife gallery until I can make a better photo.