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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Jan 31, 2010

Bald Eagles

Have you ever done something out of reflex and then had the most unexpected and delightful result?  This is exactly what happened to me one day when I set out in late fall hoping to spot  any type of Hawks I would ordinarily be unlikely to see, except during migration season and hopefully get some pictures as well.  I was actually not having much success, and was feeling quite disappointed, because all I had come home with, in the end was some pictures of Canada Geese in flight. I had been working far too many hours on my job, and hadn't truly had a chance to go birding very much during this particular migration period, so my disappointment was particularly acute.
Pair of Bald Eagles in the distance

Life does have a way of playing tricks on you sometimes though, and so the joke was on me sort of speak.  As it turned out, months later when I was sorting through my pictures, I discovered with a thrilling shock that I had in fact captured some images of a pair of mature Bald Eagles in flight.  At the time  I had mistakenly assumed I was merely seeing what appeared to be more Canada Geese, in the split second that it took me to take the pictures with my digital binoculars.  Bald Eagles are not something you expect to see in the city after all, and at the time I wasn't truly paying attention, so intent was I on sighting Hawks. 

The joke lies in the fact that my expectations had been surpassed.  However, expectation are tricky things, and since then I try not to go out on bird watch with the expectation of seeking out specific birds.  Doing so somehow just doesn't work out for me very often, and if I keep an open mind I am, more likely to be delighted with the results.

Bald Eagle above

What this experience taught me was to follow my instincts. After all something caused me to take those pictures. Since an important part of my birding experience is taking pictures, if some unusual action, shape or color is exhibited by a bird I make sure to take the picture. In this way I often end up with some incredibly surprising and lucky results, even if the images I do get don't always turn out to be good ones. Something else that I have learned since, is that weather conditions should never be a deterrent.  Despite getting soaked, caught out in a storm I have netted some decent photos of hawks in flight.  Making the assumption that you know bird behavior, in this case that birds don't fly during storms, only produces missed opportunities.

Hawk in stormy sky

Never make any kind of assumptions about birds, especially during migration.  I have seen and taken pictures of Eagles  in this city quite often since then. Although, because they tend to fly quite high and my present camera equipment doesn't allow for great pictures results at a distance, I am limited in the types of pictures I am likely to get. A telescopic lens and other equipment is therefore integrated into my financial plans for the future, along with travel plans to bird sanctuaries and other places that birds frequent.  As to not expecting to see Eagles in the city, I have discovered  that Bald Eagles like to hang out near large bodies of water and rivers because they enjoy  fish in their diet, and we do have a nice size river in this city.  Needless to say, day trips to the local river valley are also planned. It will be interesting to see if the eagles I have seen so far do in fact include this city in their hunting territory.

If you wish to learn more about Bald Eagles please follow these links and enjoy:
Note: I visited Ketchikan a few years ago and did get some pictures of Bald Eagles there.  Alaska is a beautiful place and if you ever get a chance to travel there I really recommend it.

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