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Posts Tagged ‘bald eagle fishing’

Normally when I see a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) catch a fish, it is a grab-and-go affair. The eagle reaches out with extended talons, pulls the fish from the surface of the water, and keeps flying.

Yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the scene was quite different. I spotted an eagle flying low over the water and watched as the eagle went deep into the water feet-first. I was shocked when the eagle was briefly submerged. It made multiple unsuccessful attempts to lift itself out of the water before it ultimately managed to fly away.

What was the problem? I have heard of cases when the eagle snagged a fish that was too heavy to lift. I have also seen videos of eagles swimming to shore with large fish. This eagle was far from shore, so that was not really an option here. I wonder if perhaps the fish was stuck in vegetation and the eagle had somehow gotten its talons entangled. As I look at the final photo, I am not able to tell if the eagle has its prey, but by the time the eagle was airborne, the talons were empty.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The weather was not very cooperative this past Monday, but my persistence was rewarded when I was able to observe a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) pulling a fish out of the waters off of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Northern Virginia. On multiple occasions I have seen an eagle with a fish in its talons, but this was the first time that I actually got the see the eagle catch the fish.

The only downside was that I was quite a distance away and the light was limited when I captured the shots. Like most wildlife photographers, though, I feel inspired by the images that I do capture to go out again and again, often to the same places, with the hope and expectation that I will have more opportunities to make better images. Unlike Olympic athletes, I won’t have to wait four more years to have another chance to test myself.

bald eagle

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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