June 21, 2020: Day Trip to Decorah

Story and photos by Robin Brumm

June 21: D35 in the horse pasture surrounded by clover. Photo by Robin Brumm

June 21: D35 in the horse pasture surrounded by clover. Photo by Robin Brumm

Sunday was supposed to be a nice sunny day, so I got up at dark o’clock and off I went to Decorah! It was a foggy morning and that gave the drive a mysterious feel. I was hoping that the fog would lift by the time I got to the hatchery. As I pulled up to the intersection by the hatchery, I saw both adult eagles. Mom was in the new maple tree (M2) and DM2 was perched in the next tree down the drive. It was still foggy, so the pictures are a little grainy, but it was really nice to see them both! DM2 can be skittish around people so he will often fly off if there are too many people around or people that get too close. He seems a little bit better this year, but I still try to give him a lot of extra space when trying to get a photo of him.

After taking many photos of Mom and DM2, I headed over to the nest area. To my delight, all three eaglets were on the skywalk! The brush and trees around N2B have really grown since that nest has been there, so it is hard to see the nest from the trail, and the bridge area. The 3 eaglets were all right next to each other, and as I was taking photos, I saw Mom fly into the nest. Let the squeeing commence! Lol. D34 was on the cam branch and flew down into the nest before the other two could make it down the skywalk. After 34 ate, s/he went to the cam branch again and then flew off to a tree near the bridge and curve of the bike trail.

Meanwhile, D35 & D36 were still on the skywalk. There was a little bit of pushing and D35 slipped off the skywalk. I grabbed my binoculars and headed over to the bridge to see if I could find him/her. Finally, I saw D35 perched on a stump next to the old N2 tree stump. I could barely see him/her from the bridge so I went back over to the trail by the nest to see if I could get a better view and to check on D36. The view wasn’t much better from near the nest, but I was able to see a little through the leaves. After several minutes, D35 took off from its perch and flew across the bridge to a tree in the horse pasture. Actually, it was more of a crash landing into the leaves. A juvenile’s landings are one of the most difficult parts of learning to fly and will probably take a while to perfect, especially on smaller branches.

I wanted to keep an eye on D35 so I went to get my lawn chair and set it up in the grass along the trail so I would not be in the way of the bikers and walkers. D35 was nestled in the leaves and sat pretty still for a while. After a little while, Mom flew in and perched on a branch above and near D35. Mom eventually flew off, came back a few minutes later, and circled above the tree where D35 was perched. She then circled above the nest and area where D34 & D36 were perched. Then she flew off to the north of the nest. It made me smile knowing that she was checking on all the eaglets locations before taking off for a fly-about.

D35 started to move around a bit and adjusted its position, hopping to a couple of nearby branches. I walked over to the nest because DM2 had flown in and brought in a fish. I was taking photos of DM2 on the skywalk and I turned my head just in time to see D35’s wing flapping on the way down to the ground. I’m not sure if it was a slip, or if the branch it was on broke, so I quickly went over to make sure it was okay. D35 was standing on the ground below the tree with several red-winged blackbirds harassing it. D35’s wingspan looked huge when they were fully extended. D35 was walking around the pasture flapping its wings and just checking things out. I felt relieved that s/he looked like s/he was fine, and moving well. D35 continued to walk flap & hop around the pasture a bit until it finally walked under a fence and disappeared into the bushes. (Note: D35 has, since then, turned up on cam and in the nest

The whole time I was keeping an eye on D35, D34 was perched in a tree near the curve of the bike trail. So I went to take a few more photos and then went to check on D36, who was still on the skywalk. By this time it was late afternoon and I stayed longer than I had planned, so it was time to head home. It was a good day, I got to see both Mom and DM2 perched in maple trees near the hatchery and on the nest. I saw all 3 eaglets on the skywalk, I got to see D34 flying, and I got to see D35 fledge! It can’t get much better than that!!

RRP greatly appreciates Robin’s generosity in sharing her photos and reminds you they are copyrighted and may not be downloaded without her express written permission.

Photo: D35 in the horse pasture surrounded by clover

Robin’s photos: https://robinbrumm.zenfolio.com/p282897439