Wild Saturday 2-16-08

I hope seeing bald eagles never becomes pass. Or maybe I should hope it does.

Bill Anderson and I were fishing the Des Plaines River in the Joliet area Friday–and, yes, we were the only idiots fishing or boating in the cold. The highlights were neither the brutal cold or the fish, though Lord knows it was cold enough and we caught enough fish to make us forget the cold.

But the birds. Anderson posted a couple better shots on his catchphotorelease.com site..

On the industrially warmed waters of the Des Plaines (why we were fishing it), Canada geese, ducks and gulls were congregated. Canada geese are pass in the Chicago area, maybe pain in the ass is more accurate.

The first real highlight came on our run upriver and the sighting of our bald first eagle.

By the time we quit fishing in early afternoon, we have sighted multiple eagles, including three at one time at one point. It’s impossible to tell for certain, but between the immatures and the adults, I think there was six eagles in the stretch we fished upstream and downstream of the confluence with the Kankakee River.

I try to keep up on my local birds, but I had never heard of the Des Plaines becoming a focal point or gathering place for eagles.

And boy is there magic in that. For those of us who remember the 1960s (I was in elementary school thank-you), it is especially touching to see eagles become almost common.

I remember articles in the Weekly Reader as a kid warning eagles are nearing extinction. Then came the banning of DDT in 1972, and eagles made a slow crawl back, a crawl that has become more like a sprint in recent years with a pair of eagles even trying to nest within the Chicago city limits a couple years ago.

The day was capped off when Anderson spotted a couple wild turkeys on the north bank as we made the run downriver to try another discharge.

There’s some hope for our species.

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