A pair of eagles were roosting in one of the trees along the portion of Baker Hollow creek that runs into the proposed mining site. The eagles flew together from that tree to a large tree in the dense brush along the smaller creek north of Baker Hollow, close to the highway. As I walked along the highway toward them, one of the eagles flew across the road to the bluff on the other side.
The other stayed in the tree. I was able to get a photo of the eagle flying across the highway and a photo of the eagle in the tree before the second eagle flew to the bluff.
This roosting pair of American Bald Eagles are using the proposed mining site.
I continued walking down the road, hoping the eagles would fly over and looking for other birds, especially Norther Harriers. I didn't find any harriers, but I flushed two Red-tailed hawks as I walked towards Baker Hollow from the top of the hill.
They flew from a large tree close to the highway along the creek. One landed in a tree farther from the highway along the creek, the other disappeared.
As I was photographing the hawk in the tree, I realized that a pick up truck had pulled over on the wrong side of the highway, and a man with an open cell phone (taking photos? texting?) was walking my way. I watched him as he came towards me, waiting for him to speak. He asked who I was with. I told him I wasn't "with" anyone; I was taking photos of hawks. I pointed to the hawk in the tree along Baker Hollow. He told me I couldn't go on that land. I told him I wasn't going to, that I was just taking photos of birds. He said that they had trouble with some people taking pictures of flowers. I again told him I was just taking pictures of hawks. He warned me again not to go on the land, and I again told him I was not going to do that. He turned to go, still using his phone, and I asked him who he was. He said he leased the land for hunting. He said something else about not going on the land, I again told him I wouldn't, and he left.
Meanwhile, Scott, who had been waiting at the top of the hill in the car, had driven the car down the hill, parked parked it, and crossed the highway. He was present for most of the conversation, although I didn't realize it at the time. We both watched as this man drove past us and pulled into Prairie Lane in front of the new gate across the road. He stayed there for a minute or so, then backed into the driveway across the highway, pulled back out and drove up the hill towards us.
Scott and I continued walking past Baker Hollow before returning to the car. He drove past us several more times in the meantime. We drove down to Duck Island and on the way there and back he passed us two more times.
I'm sure he is leasing the land for hunting, as he said, and didn't want trespassers. However, that won't keep me from going back to look for birds from the highway.
Check out the white line behind the trees. That is snow on top of the flooded field. Only the fields on the bluff side are dry. The rest of the proposed Banner mine site is under ice and snow from the flooded Illinois River.