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My morning started out simple enough, driving along Illinois Hwy 100 to Pere Marquette State Park for a full day of Bald Eagle scouting. I had made the reservation in November 2008, so as each day drew closer my anxiety level rose.

I didn't know what to expect on this guided tour - so I layered my clothing and managed my imagination. The drive to the park has got to be the most scenic routes in America. With the highway sandwiched between the Mississippi River and the Bluffs, its a great road to take a Sunday summer drive on.

Because of the cold, there are chunks of ice replacing the water, creating a miniature South Pole look. I kept expecting to see polar bears playing on the ice. But, of course I didn't.

As I rode the highway, every now and then I would peek over at the river to see a couple of bald eagles riding on the ice looking for food. It's times like these I wish I had an assistant. I didn't want to be late for my tour, or else I would have turned around and took their picture.

Taking in the scenery the way I did made the ride to Pere Marquette seem a lot shorter. When I mapped it out I expected the trip to take an hour, it ended up being about 45 minutes. Arriving at the visitor center, I noticed the parking lot had a lot of cars there. I was really getting jazzed now.

A park representative directed me to a lecture room where displays of a bald eagle and an immature eagle dotted the corners of the room. Since the room was partly filled, I took a seat in the back, something totally uncharacteristic of me. Because I was roaming when driving to the park, my navigation system on my phone sort of paused while I was driving, so I forgot about it.

But for some strange reason once I sat down, the stupid thing started saying: "Zero feet to your destination" loudly - my eyes darted around the room to see if anyone else heard it because our eagle tour guide had just started speaking. I fumbled to shut it off.

Just then, like a flashback to middle school days when the teacher calls on you while you're daydreaming, the eagle tour guide called me up to the front of the room.

Standing before the class he explained I was selected because I wasn't paying attention. Despite my pleas of attempting to quiet my errant cell phone - Scott, would not let me off the hook. My punishment, if you will was to answer a couple of questions about the bald eagle as well as introduce myself to the audience.

The group was pretty receptive to a city girl photographer about to have her first real nature experience. Like I said, the introduction went fine, it was the questions that got me.

Apparently, I was the target of a well orchestrated joke. Scott asked me what do eagles like to eat? Fish, waterfowl and snakes was my response. Scott added that eagles are scavengers and thieves. The bald eagle will seize opportunity for easy food whenever possible. And as Scott pulled out a black plastic garbage bag, by the shape of it, I knew it contained something yucky.
I was charged with touching it and taking it out of the bag.

Fear of the unknown, and a hyperactive imagination had me feeling like a victim in a horror movie. I just knew it was a replica or a snake or something. Yes, a replica, I was that afraid. While I was sweating up there, my fellow eagle scouters where cracking up laughing. Later I would discover a couple of them had done the eagle tour before.

Because bald eagles are scavengers, they will steal food from the mouths of other smaller animals as well as eat dead deer. If a deer falls dead and an eagle sees it, that eagle will feast off the carcass. The bag Scott was holding contained a deer skin in it.

My comical reluctance made me a mini-celebrity in the group for the day. From that point on the folks in the group felt they knew me, I even made a new friend yesterday.

Here are some of the shots from the past few days of my eagle adventures. Most were taken during Eagle Days at the Chain of Rocks and the rest were during the Pere Marquette eagle tour. While on the tour we even took the Winfield Ferry across the Mississippi to scout even more eagles. The day was pretty good, we saw cows, horses, farms, chickens and of course eagles. At last count, we saw 70 bald eagles.

My next excursion will be a visit to the Cahokia Mounds...the remains of the most prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico is there. That's my February adventure...I'll let you know how that goes...thanks for dropping by Teasas World.

5 comments

Susie said... @ January 27, 2009 at 6:51 AM

The photo's are spectacular! I love the daydreaming..sometimes that happens so easily when we are excited about our surroundings or our adventures.

These are truly spectacular birds. Thanks for sharing the pictures

LaTease "Teasas Tips" said... @ January 27, 2009 at 7:45 AM

Thx Susie for the wonderful comments.

Anonymous said... @ January 27, 2009 at 4:21 PM

Hi LaTease,

The photos are very impressive!

You must have enjoyed your excursion. How Great to share that with us here.

Greetings,
Deana

Anonymous said... @ January 28, 2009 at 4:38 PM

I don't mean to sound ungrateful, I love my photo; but he's lonely and would like a companion

LaTease "Teasas Tips" said... @ January 29, 2009 at 10:22 PM

Thank you Deanna for the lovely complement!

And thank you Anonymous,we will work on that!

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