Christmas Weekend

I drove the Quad Cities on Thursday, with plans to photograph eagles. That morning, I set out and at about 11AM, I encountered a super thick ice fog. I could barely see to drive. Had the sun not been shining through the ice fog, I wouldn’t have been able to continue. So this lasted for about 45 minutes or so. At some points, traffic almost stopped due to lack of visibility. It was kinda weird. It was also annoying because the forecast said nothing about an ice fog, and it said the sun was suppose to be out. I arrived at the eagle site around 1PM, to find ZERO eagles. I was shocked. So I went to 2 other locations where I found 2. This was odd for late December. I set out again on Saturday, after the snow storm, and again found ZERO at the main site. This time I went to 3 other sites, and found a total of about 10. Again, very odd. Finally on Sunday I went to the main site, and found about 4 eagles there, but they weren’t moving. There were many eagles flying upriver, but they weren’t landing. Just circling high above. I was there for over an hour, and never saw an eagle dive for fish. I don’t know where they went, because I’ve seen photographs from other photographers from that site this year? I guess I’ll try again later. ūüôā

I did encounter some new bird species today though. More to add to my life list. I saw a handful of Greater Scoups in breeding colors, and some Canvasbacks. One of my favorite waterfowl species is the Hooded Merganser, and there were a handful of them too.




Quad Cities American Bald Eagle Calendar for 2011

American Bald EagleWell, it’s that time of year again.¬† Time to release my latest American Bald Eagle Calendar.¬† This is the 3rd edition of the Quad Cities American Bald Eagle Calendar, and I’ve changed the format a little bit.¬† In past years, I included eagle facts on each calendar page, but this year, at the suggestion of few people, I’ve left the eagle facts out so that the images can be enjoyed more fully.¬† So I hope you all like the new format.

All of the images in this calendar were taken in the Quad Cities area of Iowa/Illinois, and all were taken in the 2010 migration season.¬† You’ll see juvenile bald eagles, and adult bald eagles.¬† The juveniles are the ones without the white feathers on their head and tail, such as the bald eagle on the cover of the calendar.¬†

Click Here For:

Quad Cities

American Bald Eagle

 Calendar 2011

Please help me to share this calendar with everyone, by reposting it on your social networking pages.  Thanks a bunch! 

Illinois Birding Map

I’ve had this map for a few years now, and for all that time, it’s been a private map.¬† A couple years ago, I started working at a camera store, and started giving out the private URL to this map to some of my customers to help them find good places to photograph eagles and other birds.¬†¬†I just recently realized that those customers must have been forwarding or posting this link on the internet because it’s been viewed thousands and thousands of times!¬† So I figured I’d post it here and make it truly public for everyone.¬†

This map has all of the locations I frequent for birding in northern Illinois and surrounding areas.  It includes example photographs taken at the locations marked on the map, and there are even a couple of videos included on some of the marked locations.  I update this map on a continuous basis, so if you want to bookmark it, you can always come back to it. 

If you find this useful, please let me know with a comment!

Bald Eagles – Lock and Dam 14 . . . Again

So Thursday of last week, on my day off, my friend Percy and I ventured off to Lock and Dam 14 in LeClaire, IA for some eagle viewing. The weather forecast wasn’t very promising when I went to bed on Wednesday night, but for once, the weather forecasters were wrong in our favor. It was an absolutely beautiful sunny day. Cold, but sunny.
We left my place around 10AM, and arrived at Lock and Dam 14 at or near 1PM. There were eagles in the trees behind us, and we were there all alone for a while. Sweet! So we put on our cold weather gear, get our camera bodies, lenses, and other assorted photographer junk <together, and start taking pictures. We had all kinds of equipment this day. I brought my D300 with my 70-200 2.8, and a 300 2.8 that I rented from Calumet Photographic, my employer (so I got a healthy discount on the rental). Percy brought a 1DMarkII, a 1DsMarkIII, a 300 2.8, and 2 different telescopes! Yes, Percy is an astronomer, and he uses telescopes to photograph nature. He runs the observatory at Harper College in Palatine. He even let me take a couple of photos with the thing. (see image to the right)
My cousin Jon showed up shortly after we arrived, and the 3 of us took photographs all afternoon. Some of the highlights of the day were:
  1. To finally get shots of an eagle having lunch up in a tree, with a blue sky background.
  2. Capturing images of 2 eagles fighting in mid air.
  3. Capturing images of a juvenille eagle trying to carry a fish that weighed more than he did.
  4. Being dive bombed by an adult American Bald Eagle. No kidding, the bird flew right over us, and dropped his fish almost on our heads.

After almost 4 hours of photographing eagles, we finally headed out for gas and food, and then made the drive back home to Chicago. We stopped at Village Inn in Bettendorf, and as we left the restaurant, Percy was trying to take pictures of the I74 bridge as the sun set against it. So I drove across the street, and down to the riverfront where we noticed a gorgeous sunset, complete with a couple of trees to frame it up. Percy got some great sunset shots, some great bridge shots, and even some shots of a barge as it went under the bridge. Then we noticed some snow geese, and they even walked up to the car to get their picture taken!