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.
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.
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!
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!
I 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
$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.
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
Guess what?! Studied a group of Pelicans south of Goose Island and above Stoddard and saw several swans scattered among them. So look closely! More on Swans coming soon! Or search greatriver.com for past features.
I am just back from a beautiful three weeks cruising with theAmerican 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.
Out 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 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!
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!!
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
Rendezvous: 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.
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.
It is indeed a small world!!
Contact CROISIEUROPE… this specific Cruise is currently ON SALE! CroisiEurope www.croisieuroperivercruises.com/ 1 (800) 768-7232
Plan to attend an outstanding juried art show… Art Fair on the Green… in La Crosse, Wisconsin, July 26/27. Mississippi River map artist, Lisa Middleton, will be featuring her hand-painted historic Mississippi River maps, including the “IOWA/WISCONSIN TERRITORY” map shown here. Purchase a gift print and ask Lisa to sign it! Originals and fine art Giclee reproductions available at this exhibit!