Bald Eagle Watch - At Saylorville Lake
By: Ray Hardin
Sunday February 26th the annual Bald Eagle watch was held at Saylorville Lake.
Below the dam my wife and I observed more that 100 Bald Eagles. Most of the eagles were perched in the trees above the Des Moines River looking down into the fast flowing stream for fish. We also saw a dozen or more of them standing on the ice covered lake. They were trying to scratch though the ice to get to dead fish.
In the late afternoon the eagles rode the warm rising air currents and began to soar above the river. Some of them appeared to be doing a courting flight. The soaring birds against the clear blue sky gave an opportunity for some good photographs.
Many other species of birds were in the water feeding. White pelicans, trumpeter swans, green headed mallard ducks and three species of geese, white-fronted geese, snow geese, and Canada geese made a very interesting color patterns on the water.
A short distance below the dam Doug Harr and Denny Thompson, members of Iowa Audubon Association, had telescopes available for people to look through in order to get a better view of the Bald Eagles.
At the Cottonwood Recreation Area, further downstream, Mike Havlik, Chris Adkins, and Erica Northwick, naturalists from the Dallas County Conservation Department were posted at the river’s edge with spotting telescopes and binoculars to assist members of the public views these fascinating birds and answer questions about their behavior.
It was a good day for seeing eagles but we and I saw many other birds; a total of twenty-eight species that day. The most interesting ones were a pair of golden eye ducks, a pileated woodpecker, a merlin and a pair of eastern blue birds that seemed to be looking for a nesting site.