The warmer weather during the last couple weeks made me believe that the season for shooting Bald Eagles at the Mississippi River was over. I didn't know that the best things were still waiting for me. Last week I got a hint on Dave Updegraff's blog that there might be still many eagles along the river. Sunday I went down south to check out different locations. First I drove to Sabula, Iowa, a little town on an island in the Mississippi River. Sure enough there were eagles sitting on the ice, lots of Ring-billed Gulls were flying around, and I saw a big flock of White Pelicans gracefully circling high up in the sky. The Bald Eagles were sitting in the trees along the river or on the ice of the backwater lakes that surround Sabula. They were close, but not close enough for the frame-filling pictures I was hoping for. In other words, too much ice, not enough eagle :-). I tried hard but was only able to get good pictures of the gulls, who were always in motion. I may post a few shots of the gulls later this week.
I finally went back north to Green Island, a wetland area and wildlife refuge near the Mississippi. While driving down the muddy road toward the river, I spotted several eagles in the trees and on the ice of the still frozen backwaters. And there he was! A wonderful adult Bald Eagle was landing on the ice right beside the road. I figured leaving the car would probably scare the bird away. I just shut the engine off and started shooting, using the car as a blind and the car window as my camera support. The eagle didn't mind. The low sitting sun made for perfect light. A dream became true for me. I have seen them sitting many times on the ice along the river and was always wondering if I could ever come close enough for a good picture.
Everything was perfect until another car drove by and the eagle flew to a different spot, closer to the open water. I managed to approach it again, this time from a different angle. The light came more from the backside of the bird, but still good enough.
I was already a very happy man at this point but another surprise was still waiting for me. Stay tuned for more.