What a great opportunity to be in Wisconsin at this time of the year. The cold weather bring the bald eagle south to find open fresh water where to fish. Dams are usually a great spot to find them fishing, even when rivers are frozen over the constant flow of water near dams provides open specs of water where the eagle can fish.
My mission was to photograph this wonderful bird fishing. With a couple of days at my disposal I looked for key spots to set up and wait for the best opportunities. My first location was Lock & Dam 13 in Fulton, Illinois, on he 1st of January 200 eagle where reported fishing. It seemed a great place to start, out of 200 eagles some must have stayed. I was disappointed in discovering that on the 14th of January work started at the dam, eagles don’t like to be too close to humans activities. Talking with one of the workers there, reported very sporadic sights.
Finding the first Eagle
As I was making my way to the car I spotted what in the white ice expanse looked like an island of tree and bushes. I looked for a way to get there. I found a path along the Dam edge that lead to it and despite old iron gates where suggesting not to go forth, I decided to explore the path anyway. I eventually spotted a lone Eagle perched on a tree branch. Wearing the winter camo allowed me to get very close and take some nice shots but the thick bushes made it impossible to find a spot with a clear sight onto the small open pond nearby. so after a while I decided to continue my search elsewhere.
On the Eagle’s Path
Unfortunately being the week end I got more of the same at every location. I had a few close encounters in Cassville on County road YY, using the car as a blind I managed to get few meters away from another perched eagles that eventually took flight. After hours of waiting in the car at Prairie du Sac Dam from the early morning, I realised that people where ice fishing just below the Dam keeping the eagles out of sight. Getting away from the common marked places on the map eventually enabled me to spot a next on the other side of the Wisconsin river where I had a a clear sight. I set up post there for a good while only to discover the eagle took off few times going fishing out of sight.
As I moved along from site to site I began realising there are 3 things to get the mission accomplished: 1) Decide upon a spot with the best conditions. 2) Go where no one else would. 3) Get there early, be patient and stay alert. I wonder where else I could apply these rules too. This time I only had 2 days available and had to settle for a few shots of Eagle flying, scavenging and nesting. Not what I was hoping for but not bad for a first winter outing.