Monday, January 26, 2009

My World: Whitewater State Park

Last Saturday I participated in the annual golden eagle survey that takes place in Southern Minnesota, Wisconsin as well as Northern Iowa. The survey is sponsored by the National eagle Center which is located in Wabasha, MN. Since I did not have a route of my own I was given the option of joining a group at the National Eagle Center or meeting the group that was going to be searching out at Whitewater State Park.
Since Whitewater is known the be one of the best places in Minnesota to see golden eagles, the only place that is better would be Hawk Ridge during migration, I decided to head down there. The weather was pretty poor that day with a lot of blowing snow and the roads were slick so it took me longer to get down there then I had planned but I arrived right in time to join the group. We went out for a few hours but we did not see any birds that we could confirm as a golden eagle.
Since I did not have very good luck with the weather on my first try out to whitewater I decided to make another trip down there on the 25th. This time the sun was shinning, although the temps were still below zero, and there was a lot more to look at.
Like this opossum that I found sunny itself on the side of the road.
The habitat were we are looking for golden eagles are called goat hills. They are hills that are facing to the southwest. Because they are facing southwest they get more sun which means less moisture and less vegetation. This leaves gaps for the eagles to hunt in. You can see the openings in the picture of the goat hill above.
I did not see any golden eagles on my second trip to Whitewater either, 88 eagles were counted during the survey on the 17th or in the week following, but I did see a few bald eagles.
There were also at least three bald eagle nests which were visible from the road.
Since I was striking out on the golden eagles I decided to head over to check out the visitors center.
Behind the visitors center they had some feeders that were attracting quite a few birds.
They had some larger birds such as blue jays, cardinals, hairy and downy woodpeckers.
There were a lot of smaller song birds also such as dark-eyed juncos, house finch and purple finch.
It was also fun to see goldfinch who had begun to molt back into their breeding plumage. This is a positive sign that winter will end and before we know it spring will be here.

15 comments:

Sara G said...

WOW, awesome post and photo's!!
I love love love your bird photo's.
Thanks for sharing. I would love to go do something like that.
Take care

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Sorry you didn't get to see a golden eagle but you saw tons of other birds! I've never seen a bald eagle...except in pictures, so I think you were very lucky!

Louise said...

Thanks for braving the cold for these great pictures!! Maybe a golden eagle next time. I don't see Bald Eagles often, either!

kjpweb said...

Excellent (as always). My kind of place!
Cheers, Klaus

ewok1993 said...

What beautiful colorful birds you have out there. I'm envious :D

imac said...

Nature at its best, wonderful shots.

Babooshka said...

All so beautiful and cute. How sweet is the oppsoum' s face.

Guy D said...

Wow, what a fantastic myworld post, I absolutely love your photography. I added your great blog to my followers list so I can be reminded to return often to see more of your work. Thanks for sharing.

Cheers!
Regina In Pictures

Arija said...

Great tale of your birding experience with delightful photos to ilustrate.

Gaelyn said...

Whitewater State Park looks like a great place to explore, even if you didn't see any Golden Eagles, you sure got a lot of other great bird captures. I really like the opposum, it's cute. Thanks for the great tour and look into your world.

dAwN said...

Well it was fun going on those trips with you...so sorry we saw no golden eagles...but you did see some other cute creatures..

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Sorry you missed out on a bald eagle, but you got some wonderful other sights in and piccies. Love that landscape and the birds.

Chris said...

Wooowwwwww..... Iwas almost missing your post, fortunately I visited your blog... Man this made my day, what a nice message and what great shots you got there... THe eagleis awesome...

Kathiesbirds said...

You can never have a bad day when you are out in nature and you sure made the best of it, even without seeing the golden eagle!

2sweetnsaxy said...

Because I'm not used to it, I would have been thrilled with the bald eagle. :-) The shots you have here are all beautiful. At least you didn't leave empty handed.