My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bald Eagles

For several weeks I've been trying to remember to take my camera with me when I go to town to run my weekly errands, hoping for an opportunity to photograph the Bald Eagles who sometimes hang out in a big, dead cottonwood in the middle of a large field about three miles from our house. Whenever I saw an eagle, I'd forgotten my camera; whenever I remembered my camera, I'd see no eagle. Until this past Wednesday, when I hit the Bald Eagle motherlode and saw not the usual one or two Bald Eagles but five or six, perched in and flying back and forth between three big trees, including the lone cottonwood, along about a hundred yard stretch of the road. AND I had my camera with me!

Unfortunately, conditions for photographing them were less than ideal. It was snowing hard with poor visibility; the dogs would get rambunctious and make the Jeep bounce and rock every time I stopped to take a photo as the eagles flew from tree to tree, making it difficult to keep the camera steady; the eagles were mostly perched among trees with lots of branches, so my poor camera didn't know whether to focus on the falling snowflakes, the branches or the birds; and because of the deep snow I was unable to pull very far off the road (and I was mostly on a sharp curve), so I had to keep watching behind and ahead of me for oncoming cars while also keeping track of the restless, ever-moving eagles, while telling my restless, ever-moving dogs to knock it OFF already, will ya? :-)

The life of an amateur wild raptor photographer is not without its challenges. (Right, Andrea?) :-)

So while I hardly count these among my best efforts, I thought you might enjoy seeing them. It was very pretty with the snowfall, and they are such magnificent birds! And to have seen five of them, FINALLY, with camera in hand - hey, who am I to complain about the snow, the branches, and the yaw, pitch and roll of my Jeep? :-) Seeing these guys was magical...

(Click on photos for larger versions)

A juvenile Bald Eagle sizing me up

The Eagle has landed! (Almost on top of one of his buddies!)
I love the eagle on the upper left, watching the commotion
like an Olympic ski jumping judge appraising the landing!

I cropped the photo so you could see the landing better.
(What do you think, about a 6.4 for technical ability?) :-)

One of the four eagles then few off to join another,
already perched majestically in the dead Cottonwood...

before taking off again.

Leaving behind this lone eagle, who seems to be thinking,
"Gee, was it something I said?"


  1. Wow, these are amazing pictures! I live in the middle of the city so I'm lucky if I see a squirrel :) I will have to share with my friend Ally, she's a fantastic amateur nature photographer, and she would love these.

  2. Fantastic photos! I occasionally see one but never 5! And the snow really adds to the photos I think. Great job and thanks for sharing!

  3. I LOVE your photos, and the fact that you finally got the eagles and camera together at the same time!

  4. Aren't they remarkable? Eagles are so beautiful and majestic. Getting to watch them feels like a gift. I lived on a river for a while, and I was able to watch them soaring over it every day. They're always amazing to see.

  5. Georgia ~ Thanks! Oh, my life would be so bereft if I didn't get to enjoy any wildlife neighbors! (Maybe some lovely wildlife screen savers would be good?) :-)

    I'm flattered you want to share these with your friend Ally and that you think she'd love them, I just wish they were better quality ~ especially if a fantastic amateur nature photographer is going to be viewing them! (Perhaps she'd rather see some of my much better deer photos? LOL)

    Does Ally have a blog or website? I'd love to see her photos!

    Daphne ~ Thanks, Daphne (I've missed your blog visits and comments!) I can't recall seeing this many Bald Eagles at one time before either, and though it made getting good photos of them harder to do, I agree with you that the snow does add a lovely touch to the pictures.

    Andrea ~ Thank you so much! I'm glad you stopped by this post in particular! :-) And I too felt quite jubilant that my camera and an aerie of eagles finally intersected!

    I'm also happy to have just learned that a group of eagles is called an aerie or a convocation. :-)

    Cadry ~ They sure are all those things, and it does indeed feel like a gift to get to see them. Your life along the river sounds lovely, and I'm glad it left you with the wonderful memory of the soaring eagles!

  6. I think your photos turned out spectacular, Laurie! You're so lucky to see such amazing creatures so often. They're gorgeous!

    I've only seen one bald eagle in my life, but hopefully will see more one day.

  7. Molly ~ Awww, thanks, Molly! I think the subject matter is spectacular, my photos are just meh. But I am glad to have been able to capture what I did, and am very gratified that you all are enjoying them (and being so generous and kind!) :-)

    I'm surprised you don't see more Bald Eagles, living so near Lake Michigan - I would think there would be quite a few of them around there. Keep your peepers peeled, I'm sure you have many Bald Eagle sightings in your future (even if they're not till you travel again or move elsewhere!)

  8. Fantastic shots. They are majestic. Do you have water near the cottonwood tree? I have parked in precarious places to attempt photos -- thinking I might get killed by a semi or something akin to it. We are a bit crazy to perform such aerobatics to get a certain photo. Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos.

  9. Isn't that always the way? Eagles, but no, but no Eagles! Glad the stars finally aligned for you..sounds like a precarious situation though with the jeep bouncing and the girls being rambunctious on a steep curve, snapping photos and watching for traffic! Great work!

    I think the photos came out beautifully, the snow makes it even more magical if you ask me. Love the one who's appraising his friend's landing...he looks like he's saying, "you call that a landing? You made the whole tree shake."

    Anyway, thanks for this bald eagle interlude...truly lovely! :)

  10. LOL..."Gee, was it something I said?"

    Yeah, you're too critical about our landing skilss.

  11. Barbara ~ Thank you so much! I don't think that old dead cottonwood has any water nearby, unless it's an irrigation ditch. But the other trees the eagles (and one magpie!) were sitting in are near a couple of ponds, and probably some underground springs. There are a lot of big, gorgeous trees there.

    I know, once you're bitten by the photo bug and have a great photo op, all thoughts of personal safety and prudence go right out the window! I've done some crazy things to get photos too, which is okay as long as the photo comes out! It's only when it doesn't that I question my common sense! :-)

    Rose ~ It certainly is often the way for me! The same thing happens on hikes. I take my camera, there's nothing worth photographing. I don't take my camera, I see all kinds of wildlife, the dogs do several terribly amusing things, and I find a gorgeous wildflower I'll never be able to locate again. "Typical!" :-) I'm glad I persevered with the eagles and was rewarded so nicely before they move on. I'll keep taking my camera to town, though, because you never know! (And I haven't forgotten that you want to see the sculpture of the girl in the ring at the library, covered in snow some day!) :-)

    You utterly cracked me up with your last two comments!! ROTFL! I'm glad you added the last one about spelling skills (though we all know it was really just a typo!) instead of deleting your first comment. :-) That was a hoot!

  12. my husband just said," thats completely crazy" [that you have bald eagles so close to you!] and it is! i thought your pictures were fine! they are so pretty!

    "Whenever I saw an eagle, I'd forgotten my camera; whenever I remembered my camera, I'd see no eagle."

    ugh, *commiserates*

  13. DD ~ Hey, we were leaving comments on each others' blogs at the exact same time! Talk about crazy. :-)

    Thanks for thinking my photos are pretty. I hope to get some better ones one day, but if these are all I get I'll be pretty satisfied! And I agree with you and Stomper that having so many Bald Eagles so close to my house is pretty crazy, in a wonderfully awesome way (we have Golden Eagles too, and lots of hawks and owls. We live in Raptor paradise, apparently!)

    You can commiserate too, huh? I think it's one of those very common Murphy's Law things! Sometimes when I'm going on a hike and I really, really want to see some cool stuff, I'll leave my camera at home on purpose! It doesn't work every time, but it works often enough that I keep doing it! That's pretty bad.

  14. Given the pup distractions, you were very lucky to get such great photos. You seem to have the infamous "Spud Disease", meaning you always forget the camera just like I always do ;-). Lucky for you (again) you found the cure for said disease....yay! Truly enjoyed these photos......way to go!!

  15. Spud ~ Yes, I do believe luck was with me that day in many ways. And hey, at least when you forget your regular camera, you usually remember your phone camera... or do you often forget that, too? (I forgot to own one in the first place. LOL)

    I'm so glad you enjoyed these eagle photos! I, in turn, enjoyed your comment! :-)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
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There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
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