It has been a cursed season for eagling. I never made it to Missouri's Squaw Creek NWR in December due to weather/work conflicts, and there were low numbers reported in January from my other favorite places along the Mississippi in eastern Iowa. I finally made it to the Mississippi over the weekend, a few weeks later than in previous years.
The reports were true that eagle numbers along the river are down substantially this year. Although the winter has been snowy and miserable, it hasn't been cold enough to freeze the river and concentrate the eagles around the dams. Friday it was overcast and snowing, and I saw zero eagles at Lock and Dam 18 near Burlington where there usually are 400 at this time of year. I moved on to Keokuk. I saw perhaps 10 eagles on sunny Saturday morning. I got this shot of an eagle landing in the dependable tree next to the Geo. M. Verity steamboat. For more, click here, or click on the images for larger versions.
On my way home Saturday I stopped at another usual haunt, Neal Smith NWR just east of Des Moines. I've driven through there maybe four times and never saw the supposed elk herd in residence. This time I saw about 17 elk scattered in three places. The larger bulls were laying down and hard to see, so here are a couple of the smaller bulls.