Eagle watching at the Red Wing checkpoint

several trees with an eagle nest at the left and a bald eagle flying at the right

A lone eagle ready to land in a treetop.

Last Saturday we decided to take a short trip, hoping to have an outdoor adventure before the impending polar vortex drove us back inside. We had a good time visiting Paul Bunyan last month when we stumbled across the CheckpointMN winter scavenger hunt, so we thought we would try another destination. One of the options is a location in prime eagle-viewing territory in Red Wing, so we headed south on Highway 61, just needing an hour to drive from the Twin Cities.

The DNR recommends looking for eagles anywhere from Bay Point Park and Colvill Park, so we started at the checkpoint at the south end and headed back north. If you’re not paying attention, you will miss the turn for Colvill Park because the park is not easily visible from the highway, and you need to go west and cross under 61 to reach the park. I have been to this park before, and we still missed the turn.

a faraway view of three bald eagles in one tree and one eagle in another tree

The busiest section of trees we saw. Too bad I didn’t have a zoom lens!

This was at least our third joint trip to Red Wing, one of our favorite Minnesota cities. It was allegedly 19 degrees above zero, but a strong wind made it feel like at least 19 below. I struggled to smile for the official pose, and my husband struggled to take a photo without removing his gloves!

a smiling woman in a purple winter coat with her arms outstretched

Soaring like an eagle for my CheckpointMN pose.

I’m typically not one to complain about the cold, but the wind was strong enough that we didn’t last long outside and we’re already talking about returning when it’s a little warmer. It would be a lot of fun to walk along the river or relax on a bench to watch the action. The last weeks of February and first weeks of March are typically good times to view eagles in Red Wing or a little farther south in Wabasha.

Lots of ducks — mallards and what we think were common mergansers — weren’t afraid of the cold water, but of course eagles are the stars here. This photo was taken from the comfort of our car. I imagined one bird saying to the other, “Cold enough for ya?”

a bald eagle and another bird sitting on an ice sheet in the middle of a river, with a dock and grasses in the foreground

A bald eagle chatting with a friend.

We planned to also visit Barn Bluff Park, but since it requires a long climb on snow-covered stairs, we’ll save that one for a warmer day. Instead we headed to the third park, Bay Point, for our last look at the eagles, near a lot of ice fishing houses on Ole Miss Marina. At this location the eagles were too far away to watch for long, but this bird made the stop worthwhile:

raptor flying to the left with a view of the underside of its left wing

We got a closeup look at the flight of this beautiful bird.

We didn’t realize that Saturday would also be a good day for watching trains. In the short time we were in the parks, three different trains moved through Red Wing.

three trains: Soo Line, Canadian Pacific, Amtrak

Three parks, three trains.

Red Wing is also notable, of course, for pottery, antiques, and shoes, but we didn’t do any of those this time — just lunch and a stop at the uniquely fun Scandinavian Uffda Shop. A fun end to a fun afternoon of eagle watching.

More about Red Wing

Visited: January 4, 2014

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Categories: Goodhue County | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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