Yesterday we took a Sunday morning drive out to see the eagles. At the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, the St. Louis area is an important overwintering site for bald eagles, and we make the 40-minute drive once every year or so.
You typically don't get to see the eagles up close, but it's still exciting and impressive to see them perched in trees or flying overhead.
We had two goals on this trip: visit the Audubon Center at Riverlands, and drive the "river road". The Audubon Center was first, as it's on the "west" side of the Mississippi (actually more south at this point). As we neared the turn off driving on highway 67, an eagle flew right at the car, probably 30 feet away. A good start to the day!
(link to Google map)
Unfortunately it was the only eagle we saw while at Riverlands. We saw plenty of trumpeter swans, geese, and other water birds though, and there was much winter beauty around. The Alton bridge (over the Mississippi) made a great backdrop for the frozen bay (a sidewater of the river).
Note that this area was flooded in late December, as it's clearly floodplain. Lots of debris at the edges of the water, not visible in these photos.
You really need to view these an a new window in your browser so you can zoom in (or save the images if you're on a smaller device).
We took a closer look at the dam that created this bay, a vital wildlife resource:
I do wonder why it is such a tall structure. For weight perhaps?
Some great winter tree views near this too:
|This view was much more impressive in person.|
The color of the branches was so nice against the sky!
In the visitor center there was an eagle on display, so we got a good look:
The river road (highway 100) runs along the east bank of the Mississippi, and is quite a pretty drive. River to the west, towering bluffs to the right, eagles flying overhead every once in a while. Difficult viewing while driving, but sometimes an eagle perches in a tree near a pullout:
A few people vie for the best spots from which to photograph these stationary birds, but it's often being in the right place at the right time.
I wish I could have gotten some shots of the bluffs, but we had neglected to change drivers so I couldn't shoot. Maybe next time... (Click here for a blog post with some great photos)
A fun day out, even though we saw just a few eagles!