Friday, February 19, 2010

Janesville Rock River Eagle, the Hot Air Balloon, Lots of Geese, Mystery Waterfowl and Phoenix Flies Through the Rainbow

One of the Janesville Rock River Bald Eagles in one of their favorite trees. Unfortunately the light is dim and the air dense.

When I come to look for the eagles, as I turn into the boat landing I always look for a lump in the far tree that is the tallest. It is directly across from the landing on the intersection of a feeder stream and the Rock. Can you see the lump in the top right of the tree. By the way, Eagle is currently being bombed by, I think, Starlings.

The Canada Geese on my side are flying around manically honking. I look behind me.

Good grief, there is a hot air balloon landing over there.

The geese do another round and then must decide the balloon is no big deal and go back to their river business.

Eagle on the other hand is still keeping an eye on the balloon area, but doesn't look the least like she wants to fly off.
This is when the weird waterfowl comes past. Something about it's head, or profile, or long bright beak made me think of a Cormorant, but some how the rest of it doesn't seem to fit.
The creature is smaller than a Canada Goose and a good bit bigger than a mallard. It's beak is red or orange and there is a white patch around the bill. Any suggestions?
As the next photo is of Mallards one might think Eagle was looking at them. Nope. Eagle was looking at the mystery fowl above. The ducks came by 10 minutes later.
She may have looked at the Mallards as well, but just about that time I noticed a gentleman on the other side of the boat landing looking at the lump in the tree himself. I asked if he was looking at the eagle, which he was, so I asked if he'd like to look through the scope. Then I noticed his pair of compact binoculars. It turns out Bill is a bicycler and a birder so he had many helpful things to share with me.
We've chatting along when suddenly Eagle decides to to take off.
By the way, see those houses? See eagle heading out that way? She then heads along the river. On the other side of those houses is Main Street in Janesville. It's quite amazing that all this action is occurring in a downtown area.
A few minutes later, a big bird comes from the south. What is the eagle back? Oh no, this looks more like a pterodactyl. Bill had mentioned that there was a Great Blue Heron around and I believe that's what we've got. A pterodactyl would likely be too much to ask for. Besides a Great Blue is extremely cool.
Those massive wings keep flapping.

and flapping,
and flapping.
And then suddenly there is no one. No Eagle, no Heron, no ducks--and soon no me either as my feet won't take waiting to see if anyone comes back to roost in the eagle tree.
From Chicagoan Ken Zommer, who has been keeping up with the status of Phoenix the Red-tail, sad news--

Chicago Sun Times 2/18/10
Bye-bye birdie . . .
Feather duster: The perched red-tailed hawk named "Phoenix," burned by a fireball caused by a Sugar Grove plane crash in late January -- was euthanized last week. The bird was triaged by Dawn Keller, founder of Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation, who had been optimistic about a full recovery, but the bird had respiratory complications from inhaling fumes.


Karen Anne said...

Sad news about Phoenix...

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