Location: Conowingo Dam, Susquehanna River, Cecil and Harford counties in Maryland. Weather: Clear, sunny, cold, windy on the river, high – 40 degrees F, Low 27 degrees F. Habitat: River, Floodplain Forest, hydroelectric dam.
I finally went to see the Bald Eagles fish at Conowingo Dam. I have wanted to go for several years to see Bald Eagles un-caged and free. I got up early Saturday morning (even though I didn’t want to) and my mother and I drove an hour and one half, down US Route 1. Just 5 miles over the Pennsylvania border, is the Conowingo Dam. The Dam crosses the big, mighty Susquehanna River. Directions were straight and easy. I didn’t take pictures of the dam, because homeland security is an issue there.
Along the river banks is a paved observation area were birders and naturalists can hold their breath and watch the majestic birds that have come to symbolize America.
I tried out my new binoculars and marveled at the clear image and the buff-gold edge of this mature Bald Eagle’s plumage. And look at the bulk of those legs. I am sure most of the bulk are down feathers. It was very cold, specially with the wind and movement of the water in the river. I doubt if the Eagles felt the cold.
I never really thought about how the white head matches the white tail of the mature Bald Eagle. This raptor perched, high above the spectators below. Us and the Eagles were situated downstream of the dam.
The Bald Eagles are primarily fish eaters. The water level was high in the Susquehanna, because of the heavy rain a couple of days before. The dam engineers were releasing quite a bit of water downstream. The release of so much water made fishing difficult for the Eagles.
The big birds perched and waited, And then Swoosh! Down they swept to the water and rose into the air clutching a fish. It didn’t take long for this bird to eat the fish. After the bird was finished, gulls swooped down for scraps.
It was a great morning. I saw this wonderful bird of prey, not on television in a nature program, but up close and free. And not too far from Philadelphia. It was just, too cool.
Other species seen: Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias), Gulls spp., and Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus).
All photos taken by Donna L. Long, December 4, 2010.