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2008 Eagle Count: Sat. Jan 26, 2008

Winter Raptor @ Banner Marsh: Sun. Jan. 27, 2008

The 2008 Peoria Eagle Count on Sat. Jan. 26, was the first day of warmer temperatures from a week that had seen 2-3 below zero excursions.  As a result, much of the backwater lakes of the Illinois River was still frozen.  In the image below, taken at the Marshall State Fish and Wildlife area, we ended up viewing a large expanse of frozen backwater.  The eagles had apparently dispersed to areas where the water was still open, such as the shipping channel and the lock & dam.

Marshall Fish and Wildlife Area

Final count for the 2008 Peoria Eagle Count was:

2008 Peoria Eagle Count Summary






Henry to Peoiria






West side of River






East side of River











Peoria to Havana






West side of River






East side of River











Lock & Dam to Quiver Creek





Boat Crew

















Dennis commented that he unfortunately was not able to take any eagle pictures, as the morning mist and distance did not work well for photography.  On the other hand, there was an opportunity to snap a few photos of horned larks, when a flock flew by at the right point while his team was in the Woodford County Fish and Wildlife Area

Horned Lark at Woodford County State Fish & Wildlife Area

Horned Lark at Woodford County State Fish & Wildlife Area


Horned Lark Feeding in Field

Close-up of Horned Lark

The horned larks came by at just the right point for a photo opportunity.  Dennis and John counted 20 eagles along their territory, which was the east side of the Illinois River, between Henry and Peoria.  

Peoria in Sunshine and Mist

At the end of the eagle counting trip, the sun came out for the first time in the morning.  Even at noon, there was still a fair amount of mist, which cast a slight blue hue over the Peoria landscape.  When counting eagles over long distances with spotting scopes, small amounts of mist or haze may cut back in the viewing and the photography, but the enjoyment of the experience and the camaraderie among the teams could speak volumes.


After the count, a flock of Canada geese were at the East Peoria marina.  Dennis couldn't resist one more photo.

Mark, who took a boat from Pekin to Havana, had better luck in that his team counted 120 eagles from the middle of the Illinois River. 

Winter Raptors @ Banner Marsh Field Trip

Pete Fenner, President of Peoria Audubon Society led 15 hearty souls on a field trip to Banner Marsh in Fulton County. The weather cooperated with temps nearing 50 degrees. Our targets were "winter raptors" and we were not disappointed.  Dennis was able to take a couple of photos of the mute swans.  Most of the other birds were too elusive for a photo opportunity. 

According to Pete, "On the trip from Bartonville to Banner, we got the American kestrel. Upon entering Bell's Landing, we immediately saw a red-tailed hawk. Then we enjoyed watching a coyote romp across the road, and dream of hamburger as he passed a nearby cow. A few mute swans were on the ice, and a great blue heron was seen in the distance.

Deb Roe's eagle eyes spotted a shrike in the distance, and we brought it in a bit closer with our scopes. OK the shrike is not technically a raptor, but it is a predator. We spotted our first Northern harrier of about four we would see. As we watched a flock of 20 or so American tree sparrows, a merlin arrived in hot pursuit right in front of my car! Its hunt was unsuccessful and disappeared quickly for another meal elsewhere.

A barred owl was heard nearby. Several coyotes sang for us, and exactly 85 Canada geese (Deb counted them) provided other audio entertainment. Although the short eared owls were a no-show, the afternoon was otherwise very successful with many raptors and predators seen."

Mute Swans at Banner Marsh

Mute Swans at Banner Marsh

Hats are off to Pete for organizing and leading the trip.  It made for a very pleasant afternoon and a great break from the bitter cold conditions of the previous week.  


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