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Posts Tagged ‘Bald Eagle’

Many of you are aware that I have been keeping track of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. When the eagle couple occupied the nest earlier this spring, the authorities set up barriers to keep the eagles from being disturbed, because the tree with the nest is close to the intersection of several trails.

I have checked the nest several times in the past month and there has always been an eagle sitting in the middle of the nest. As I looked through my telephoto zoom lens this past Friday from one of the barriers, I could see that an adult eagle was sitting at one side of the nest, leading me to believe there might be babies. I waited and eventually was rewarded with a view of one eaglet.

Last year there were two eaglets born at this nest. Perhaps there is a second eaglet this year too, but at a minimum I am thrilled to know that there is at least one new eaglet birth to celebrate.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) paused for a moment to check on its catch as it flew away on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Occasionally I will see an eagle flying with a fish in its talons, but it is quite rare for me to see an eagle actually catch the fish.

In this case, I was fortunate enough to spot an eagle circling low over the water and I captured a few images just after the eagle snagged the fish. In the second shot, which chronologically speaking was the first shot, you can just make out the fish. In the third shot, the eagle appears to be adjusting itself to the additional weight and is starting to increase its speed and altitude.

These are the kind of action shots that I love to capture. I never know when such situations will arise, so I always try to remain ready to react.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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On Monday it was cool and windy and I didn’t expect to see many birds at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I was pleasantly surprised to spot several Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) flying about. The wind seemed to slow them down a little and gave me a slightly better chance of capturing images of them in flight.

My favorite subject was this juvenile eagle. Sometimes juveniles can look somewhat bedraggled with their multi-colored feathers, but I thought that this one looked quite handsome, especially when the light hit it from a good angle and illuminated its body. One unexpected benefit was that it was easier to get a proper exposure with the juvenile because it does not have the extreme contrasts of the dark body and white head of the adults. In many of my shots of adult eagles, the body ends up underexposed and/or the head ends up overexposed.

juvenile bald eagle

juvenile bald eagle

juvenile bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) dropped more quickly than I anticipated when it took off last Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, but somehow I managed to keep most of it within the frame.

Whenever I see an eagle perched in a tree, my mind starts to go into overdrive and my fingers get twitchy. Should I take an immediate shot or should I try to get closer? If I manage to get closer, should I zoom in all the way to capture the perched eagle or leave room in the frame if the eagle decided to take off? I try to anticipate what is going to happen, knowing that I will most likely will have to react to a scenario that I hadn’t predicted.

This eagle, for example, did something unusual—it initially flew towards me. In my experience, eagles almost always fly away from me when they take off. A bird flying right at you is a real challenge to photograph. My focus on the eagle’s eye was off a little bit, but I was very happy to capture an image in which I am looking straight at the eagle’s face from in between the wings.

Growing up, I was a member of the Boy Scouts and the Scout motto of “Be Prepared” serves me well when I am trying to photograph wild creatures like this bald eagle.

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Do you ever feel the need to scream at the top of your lungs like this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that I spotted on Saturday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge? I think that most of us have moments in our lives when our emotions overwhelm us and we feel a need to vent. Why not scream? 

As the old children’s rhyme tells us, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” 🙂

screaming eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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This Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was initially facing away from me on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  Somehow, though, the eagle sensed me approaching and turned its head slightly to glare at me. The eagle seemed to take a little time to check me out before deciding to take off.

I am presenting the images below in reverse chronological order, starting with the “glare” and working backwards in time to the moment when I first spotted the eagle. I had just rounded the bend of a trail and lookeding upwards was shocked to see that I was almost directly this eagle. It is definitely rare for me to get this close to an eagle and to get such detailed shots of its feathers.

bald eagle

bald eagle

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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This immature Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) certainly was aware of my presence on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, judging by the intensity of the stare it directed toward me. I am guessing that the eagle is about three years old—it takes almost five years for its head feathers to turn completely white and for its beak to turn yellow. At this stage of development, bald eagles look a little scruffy and have not yet acquired the majestic look that I associate with this species.

If you are interested in seeing images of the developmental stages of the bald eagle, check out this posting from onthewingphotography.com that shows an eagle’s age progression from one to five years old.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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