Louisiana’s 10th Annual Eagle Expo and More

Eagle events are abounding along the whole length of the Mississippi River. Even the “deep south” is celebrating the resurgence of the American Bald Eagle.

The 10th Annual Eagle Expo and More will be held in Morgan City, Louisiana, February 26 – 28, 2015.  The Eagle Expo is a tribute to the return of the American Bald Eagle to Louisiana, which was removed from the endangered species list in June 2007.

Friday evening will feature a dinner and a presentation, A Life Gone to the Birds, by Al Batt, at the Petroleum Club of Morgan City from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. This presentation is part of the Educational Series sponsored by the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area, a program of the National Park Service, and the Office of Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne. Programs in the series increase awareness and appreciation of the natural, historic and cultural resources of the Heritage Area. Presentations are posted at www.atchafalaya.org.

Al Batt of rural Hartland, Minnesota is a writer, speaker, storyteller and humorist. Al writes four weekly humor and nature columns for many newspapers, and does a show three times per week about nature on a number of radio stations. Al has been featured in the Smithsonian Magazine, the Star Tribune, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Bird Watcher’s Digest, on WCCO Radio, on KFAN Radio and on Agri-Talk, and was given the Thomas Sadler Roberts Award by the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union.. Cost to attend the dinner and presentation is $40.00 per person.

This three day event will also include guided boat tours into the Atchafalaya Basin, Bayou Black, Turtle Bayou and Bayou Long. The Expo will also feature seminars by wildlife experts, a presentation by Extreme Raptors, which includes live raptors, a photography exhibit and an all-day photography workshop given by C.C. Lockwood.

For complete event schedule, cost and registration form contact the Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau at 985-380-8224, visit online atwww.cajuncoast.com/eagleexpo, or email info@cajuncoast.com.

Winter Golden Eagle Count Results

Press Release:

On January 17th, volunteers from the National Eagle Center spread out across the blufflands of southeast Minnesota, western Wisconsin and eastern Iowa during the 11th annual Wintering Golden Eagle Survey. They were seeking golden eagles that winter in the hills and valleys of the region.

Golden Eagle in Flight

More than 180 observers drove rural roads, outfitted with binoculars and spotting scopes to survey the area for golden eagles. Preliminary results reveal that they observed 136 golden eagles, the most ever recorded for the survey. Though this number has increased over the years, it is likely that the increase is a result of more observers covering a larger area, and more experience on the part of the observers in picking out these hard to spot golden eagles.

Observers also recorded other birds, especially raptors, seen during the survey. Saturday’s survey recorded more than 500 red-tailed hawks and 1,734 bald eagles.

‘That’s an amazing number of bald eagles for survey areas that are away from the Mississippi River” says Golden Eagle Project coordinator and National Eagle Center Education Director, Scott Mehus. Typically in winter, large numbers of bald eagles can be found along the river, congregating near open water to find fish. The National Eagle Center conducts weekly wintering bald eagle counts along the Mississippi River, which are available at nationaleaglecenter.org.

This winter with warmer temperatures, more open water and little snow cover, bald eagles are more dispersed, with few large congregations in any one location. Large numbers seen in the blufflands confirm that the population of bald eagles is still healthy, and many are finding food away from the river. By comparison, the 2014 survey counted just 878 bald eagles in the same areas.

Eagle Festival Links… and Quincy, Illinois, updates

sepia eagles on nestThe American Eagle Foundation has a section of its website (www.eagles.org) dedicated to Eagle Festivals held throughout the United States and Canada. If your community would like to update listings, please use this link: http://www.eagles.org/programs/educational-resources/Eagle-Festivals-and-Events.php

We have the following information for the Quincy, Illinois, Bald Eagle Watch.  January 25-26, 2014
Outdoor Viewing at Quincy, IL; Lock and Dam #21
Indoor exhibits and events at Oakley Lindsey Civic Center
Schedule: Saturday and Sunday, January 25-26, 2014.
Indoor exhibits and events from 9:00 – 5:00 both Saturday and Sunday,
Outdoor viewing at Lock and Dam 21: 8:00 – 3:00 each day.
Description: Bald Eagle viewing at Lock and Dam #21, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. each day.
Telephone: For more information, call Quincy Ranger Office: 217-228-0890

Upper Mississippi Has Iced Over in a Hurry!

sepia eagles on nest

Nov. 18… Upper River is shutting down! Pretty much ice-covered. I remember years when I was riding the Steamboats on Nov. 17th!  This morning I saw 9 eagles clustered around a small area of open water. This afternoon…. no more small areas of open water!! Eagles are abundant… I must have seen 20 in a 5 mile stetch this morning… but the river tonight is pretty well sealed up. Eagles will be moving to open water just below the dams. Swans and Pelicans evaporated! Waterfowl are still migrating through looking for open water!

Eagle nests are now clearly visible along the river.


Nov. 10……. Have been driving along the Wisconsin shore north and south of La Crosse. Lots of Swans, and other migrating waterfowl!  Eagles are also ABUNDANT as the river begins to freeze up before our eyes. My hope is that it will all open up again once the polar vortex is well out of the way, but meanwhile waterfowl and Eagles are abundant in the open water.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, after my river weeks on the American Queen, it is the adult American Bald Eagles that seem most abundant to me. Not nearly the number of juveniles that I’ve seen in late fall in past seasons. http://www.greatriver.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/watermarked-eagles-300×86.jpgWould love to hear some comments!



Historic River Maps Make Great Gifts!

Lisa's maps at village frameI walked into Village Custom Frame in La Crosse, WI, the other day and found Sue busy at work filling orders for Lisa Middleton’s historic map prints ordered for Christmas giving. The framed maps 1887 Ribbon Maps are a GREAT idea for a corner nitch, or between two windows, or as a cabin feature!


If you don’t live in La Crosse, Stockholm, Alma, Winona, or Wabasha … where many of the frame shops sell Lisa’s maps already framed… you can now order FRAMED 1887 Mississippi River Ribbon maps at the Great River Publishing gift shop on ETSY.com

frame samples

$145 includes choice of mat color (choose from those samples show) with a dark wooden frame.Maps can be shipped directly to the recipient!

Questions? Ready to order? Have another of Lisa’s historic map paintings you’d like framed and shipped? Want to frame the original painting?  Call 406-471-7563 or go to ETSY.com to order online.

Winter Birding Trips in Upper Midwest

With the Tundra Swans now streaming in to the Upper Mississippi, it’s time to plan some  field trips! The La Crosse Audubon Club suggests the following:

Mississippi River Waterfowl Viewing – November 16, 2014.
We will meet at noon on the street behind the Kwik Trip at the stop lights in La Crescent. We will head south and checkout the mudflats below the entrance to the Wildcat Landing in Brownsville and we will also stop at the refuge overlooks just south of there. This is not the date of the US Fish & Wildlife Service viewing event so it won’t be as crowded. This is a great opportunity to see thousands of Ducks, Geese and Swans.

Lake Michigan Lakefront Birding. (January 10, 2015?)
We will join the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology (WSO) field trip along the shore of Lake Michigan. The trip will probably be held on Saturday, January 10th 8:00 AM and goes as far north as Sheboygan. This trip is a great chance to see waterfowl including Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks as well as other specialties including Snowy Owls and rare gulls. We will carpool from La Crosse. Details will be announced via e-mail in December.

Northwoods Birding, February ?
We would spend a long day checking out the north woods in WI. We would leave before dawn and return after dark with visits to several locations in the Clam Lake and Gordon areas in search of boreal birds.

For more details, including membership information, visit the Coulee Region Audubun Club Website www.couleeaudubon.org

Fall Color Peaks on the Upper Mississippi!

BEST Fall color on the AQRichard

I am just back from a beautiful three weeks cruising with the American Queen between St. Paul and St. Louis. Fall color should be here for the October 18th week in all its glory. Lots of Sunshine predicted, so plan to hit America’s Great River Road! Click here for CURRENT COLOR REPORTS.

eagleOut on the Mississippi River, we noticed an increasing abundance of American Bald Eagles each week of the Sept/October cruise. While my favorite stretches are from Lansing, IA to Red Wing, MN, truly we saw eagles all the way to Alton, Illinois. Noticeably more ADULTS than Juveniles. Not sure why that was. Has anyone else noticed that? Please comment below! Are the sheer number of adult prompting younger birds to be searching further afield? Have the juveniles already started south?

Our Historic Map Artist Makes the Glossies!

Our Mississippi River map artist, Lisa R Middleton, was featured in the FALL 2014 issue of the Montana Quarterly  

We’ve been lucky to have her on the river for the past 7-8 years, but she is expanding her territory westward. It was great having her on the Upper River for ART FAIR ON THE GREEN this summer. Thank you to everyone who expressed such enthusiasm for her Hisoric Map paintings and WELCOME to all our new owners!

Anyone who might like to see the 5-page spread should contact Montana Quarterly 

Visit Lisa’s online blog, ART AT HEART, at www.greatriverarts.com !  Yes, she does accept special requests for original paintings!

Cruising the Seine River with CroisiEurope


our boat entire

Our Waterway Cruise Reports often consist of two highlights… things we experience that could not happen at home, and the occasional serendipity of finding a bit of “home” in our travels!  “Home” for our cruise along the winding Seine River was CroisiEurope’s sparkling SEINE PRINCESS. Limestone faced bluffs, a steady parade of tiny rural villages, historic ruins and churches, complimentary open bar, and exceptionally delicious meals were our daily fare.


For my Mississippi River friends, the tie between France and life along the Mississippi River is readily apparent. After all, we are couched culturally between Montreal in Quebec, and New Orleans in Louisiana! Our June cruise through the Seine River valley from Honfleur to Paris provided many surprising links to the Mississippi River which I’ll enjoy sharing!!

seine cruise map

Our cruise on the Seine  Princess would meander past castle and abby ruins, medieval walled villages, Joan of Arc’s city of Rouen, and culminate in an evening cruise among the night lights of Paris!

UPDATE: This specific cruise is currently ON SALE!  Contact:CROISIEUROPE… www.croisieuroperivercruises.com/…..
1 (800) 768-7232 

P1010927Rendezvous: HONFLEUR on the NORMANDY COAST of France. These very medieval warehouses which today house restaurants, art galleries, and butcher shops were once the depository of pelts from the French Fur Trade in North America!

Our gathering point for the cruise was Honfleur, which was conveniently located near the D-day Landing Beaches of Normandy. Our cruise normally included an optional shore tour of the beaches, but since it was actually June 6 that we would have toured… amidst stringent security… we spent the week before  boarding the Seine Princess at a hotel in Arromanches– with a rental vehicle for independent visits to the beaches and throughout the villages of Normandy.

Honfleur was a town of sea-going merchants, sailors, explorers, fishermen long before the travels of Columbus. Normandy had been sacked repeatedly by Vikings (North Men, thus, Normandy) so fishermen with restless Viking blood had long explored the ocean currents from Honfleur to Newfoundland as they fished for Cod. We found its beautiful pleasure boat harbour, lined with picturesque shops located in medieval warehouses, the winding stone paved streets, and the ancient wooden church well worth the two days allotted to our visit there.

We generally planned for a walking tour and a bus tour on shore each day. Our



Each day on the cruise two optional shore visits were planned… generally a guided walking tour and an afternoon bus tour.  In every case, we found the guides to be passionate, and very knowledgeable about our destinations.




One of the first merchants I met in Honfleur mentioned that many from North America and Quebec visit Honfleur today on the hunt for genealogical records of ancestors descended from the region. The very name QUEBEC represents, surprisingly, not a French word, but a Norman or VIKING word meaning a narrow spot in a broad stream of water.

In fact, a bust of Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer and cartographer best known for establishing and governing the settlements of New France and the city of Quebec adorns the castle ruins at the port… a monument to a “north man” who went on to be the governor of the infant city of Quebec. I was told that several other names, well known to us… such as La Salle and Cartier… would have left on their discovery voyages from this very port city.

Champlain began exploring North America in 1603, establishing the city of Quebec in the northern colony of New France. He became the de facto governor of New France in 1620. Champlain died in Quebec in 1635.

It is indeed a small world!!


Contact CROISIEUROPE… this specific Cruise is currently ON SALE!
CroisiEurope   www.croisieuroperivercruises.com/
1 (800) 768-7232