John Finds D35!
It was a beautiful day to track eagles and D35 had been spending her last several weeks near the Burnsville, MN landfill just south of the Minnesota River. She has been hanging out in that area since, November 20th. My home is not far from Burnsville, so it was time to grab a copilot and track eagles!
My son Jonathon was available to grab pictures, so we hopped in the Raptor-mobile, traveled across I-494 to 35W South, and crossed the Minnesota River. The area of interest is quite a large industrial complex, so we found a good spot east of her latest position and fired up the radio receiver. We were pleasantly surprised to hear an audible signal (intermittent beep) oriented towards the west and the landfill! Then we looked over our road maps and headed West to get a closer reading. We traveled as far West as we could and pulled out the antenna and receiver for another reading. There she was – a strong signal!
We headed over to the landfill and checked in with management for site access. We were happy to be able to enter the property and headed north to the quarry area in the proximity of her most recent GPS locations reported from Brett. We saw many eagles in the area and it was obvious that the area was a gathering point for bald eagles, raptors, turkeys and many other critters. We traveled as far north as we could with view of the river and scanned the area. We got a focused audible along the North quarry boundary and could see at least 15 eagles of all ages perched in a group of trees. The photos helped us to identify the group of eagles she was with, but none of the detail was good enough to see her backpack transmitter. As different groups of eagles took flight, I scanned from the perch area to the south to check for a change in her position. We saw a noticeable shift in radio signals after two juvenile eagles flew south towards the mulch processing facility. We were able to get a short video and a couple of pictures of the two eagles in the air and joining at least 50 eagles flying in circles around the Southern perimeter of the landfill property!! Although we did not have good enough photos to determine which eagle was D35, we are sure we saw her depart from her tree perch and join the larger aerial group! It is easy to see why so many eagles and raptors congregate in this portion of the Minnesota River Valley. It was a good day and we celebrated with a stop at our favorite burger joint on the way home.