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Posts Tagged ‘eagle’

No matter how many times it happens, it is always exciting to see a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Last week I spotted this one at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and I was happy when it presented me with a chance to take this profile shot.

I had watched as the eagle flew to this tree and stealthily approached it. I was able to get relatively close, because the eagle was looking away from me and could not see me moving closer. However, the butt-first pose that it presented to me is not the most flattering for any creature, so I waited and hoped that the eagle would change its position. After what seemed like an eternity, the eagle moved its head to the side and I was finally able to get a few shots in which the eye was visible. Patience paid off one more time.


Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The wind was blowing strongly last Friday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, giving this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) a bad case of “bed head.” I think that the wind may also have distracted the eagle a little, which allowed me to move closer to the eagle that I might otherwise have been able to do.

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was cold and breezy yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, but at least the sun was shining. Most of the birds seemed to be hiding, probably trying to stay warm, so I was particularly thrilled when I finally spotted this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in a tree overhanging the trail on which I was walking.

The eagle appears to have spread its tail feathers a bit to provide some additional warmth for its feet, though I must confess that I have no idea if eagles actually get cold feet. I moved forward slowly, knowing that I would probably spook the eagle, but I needed to pass under the tree in which it was perched. I took the second shot when I was closer to the eagle and it seems pretty apparent that it had spotted me. Sure enough, the eagle took off a few seconds later.

After so much time overseas this past month, it was really nice to get back to the familiar surroundings of “my” wildlife refuge. Unfortunately, a major construction project has closed large sections of my favorite trail that runs along parallel to the water, so I may have to search for a different location to shoot this winter. The good news is that I am blessed to live in an area with a lot of options for wildlife photography. My goal will be to find another location that is remote enough that it is not too crowded—I generally prefer to be by myself when I am experiencing nature.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This is definitely not Paris. Yesterday, less than 24 hours after my return from my stay in Paris, I was back on the trails at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, one of my favorite places to photograph wildlife.

It was a cloudy, blustery day and there was not a lot of wildlife active, but I did manage to capture this shot of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). From a distance, I spotted the top of the eagle’s head as it hunkered down in a nest, presumably seeking shelter from the wind. Although I was a pretty far away, it spotted me and quickly took to the air. My vision is really good after my cataract removal surgery a couple of years ago, but when it comes to being “eagle-eyed,” I am no match for the real thing.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I heard the loud call of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) yesterday I had to turn back in the direction I had come on a trail at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Had I walked underneath the tree in which the eagle was perched? Had it just flown in?

I did not ponder these questions for long, because it was abundantly clear that the eagle was really close and I wanted to try to get a shot. I backtracked slowly and caught sight of the eagle just after I had passed it—it was almost hidden by the foliage. I didn’t want to risk spooking the eagle, so I stayed in place and captured the first image below. Apparently I am not as stealthy as I think, for the image suggests that the eagle was monitoring my every step.

I grew a little bolder and moved to a position from which I had a clearer view of the eagle. Several times the eagle seemed to glance down at me and flex its talons a bit in a not-too-subtle reminder that it was merely tolerating my presence. After a short while, the eagle tired of our little game and took off without warning.

As you can probably tell from the images, yesterday was an overcast day. Although I really like the brilliant blue sky that served as a backdrop to some shots of a bald eagle earlier this month, I think that the clouds diffused the light and allowed me to capture more details in the white head feathers than when the sun was shining brightly.

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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In theory, it is easier to spot a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) now that the leaves have fallen from the trees. In reality, however, the eagles often seem to like to perch in locations where they are at least partially hidden by branches.

That was certainly the case this past Monday when I spotted this bald eagle at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. There was a lot of tangled vegetation between me and the eagle, so there was no way that I could get any closer. I was happy that I was able to find a shooting angle that allowed me to get a clear view of the eagle’s head and tail.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Whenever I walk the trails parallel to the water at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I try to stay alert, because I never know when a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) will come zooming by, as this one did last week.

I had my camera already set to relatively appropriate settings and my biggest challenge was to acquire the eagle in my viewfinder before it flew out of sight. I was fortunate that the eagle was flying on a level plane, so I did not have to worry about having to zoom the lens in or out. I took a burst of shots and the image below was the one that I liked the best, primarily because of the wing position and the catch light in the eye.

Each opportunity to photograph a bird in flight is unique. I never know when circumstances will work together to permit me to capture a good in-flight image, but it feels almost magical when somehow I do.

 

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was observing a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, something seemed to catch its eye and without warning the eagle took off into the air.

I was a little slow in reacting, but managed to capture an in-flight shot. The image you see is framed just as I took it. I was already partially zoomed out at 375mm on my 150-600mm, but that was not wide enough to capture the full wingspan of the eagle. When the action happens so quickly, it is hard to simultaneously track the moving subject and use the zoom—it is a bit like trying to rub your stomach and pat your head at the same time.

The second shot shows the eagle just before the takeoff. I like the tension of its body position and and the intense focus of the eagle’s eyes.

The final shot was taken before the other two and gives you an idea of how the eagle was perched as I approached it. There were a lot of branches surrounding the eagle and I tried to move slowly and cautiously to get a mostly unobstructed shot.

For those of you in the United States celebrating today, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving Day. It is good to pause and reflect on all the blessings in our lives, not just on the one day each year that is set aside for doing so. I thank all of you for your continuous support and encouragement for me as I share my photography and my life in this blog. Over the last six years it has become part of my daily life and I consider many of you to be a part of my extended family.

“In everything give thanks.”

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I rounded a curve on a trail at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge one morning last week, I spotted a fierce looking Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) almost directly overhead in a tree. I wasn’t sure if the eagle had seen me, but when it looked down and glared at me, I realized it was quite aware of my presence.

In several earlier postings I have mentioned that this is a tough time of the year for spotting birds, because most of the leaves are still on the trees. Often I can hear birds, but I can’t see them. It turns out that the leaves on the trees can also hide me from the birds sometimes. I think that is how I ended up almost directly below this eagle, forced to shot upwards at a somewhat uncomfortable angle.

It wasn’t long before the eagle decided that it had had enough of me and it took off. Alas, I was not able to capture any in-flight shots, but I am definitely happy with the shots I managed to get of the perched bald eagle.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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If its head feathers were not so white, I probably would not have spotted this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) amidst all of the leaves still on the trees at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge earlier this week.

Bald Eagle

A short while later, I spotted a second bald eagle, possibly the same one, in a different leafy perch near the top of some trees.

Bald Eagle

It is rare for me to have the chance to photograph a perched bald eagle at what qualifies as close up (though I was shooting at the long end of my 150-600mm lens) and I was incredibly thankful to have two separate opportunities to do so in a single day.

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It has been quite a while since I last got a shot of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), so I was really happy when I saw this young one in the distance earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Experienced birders can tell the age of a Bald Eagle by its coloration. All I know for sure that it is less that five years old, the age at which the head feathers turn white, though I have the impression that it is pretty young.

As is often the case, the eagle spotted me right afterwards and took to the air, but I managed to get a shot as the eagle flew off. When it comes to eagles, it is always a challenge to get a shot, because the eagle’s eyesight is so much better than mine and its reaction time so much quicker.  I therefore have to react almost instantly when I see one and then hope that luck is on my side.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Despite the light rain that was falling, I decided to go on a photo walk yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Most of the smaller birds seemed to have taken shelter in the trees, but I was thrilled to catch a glimpse of a couple of raptors that were perched prominently in the open. It was an interesting contrast to spot an American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), one of the smallest raptors in our area, and a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), one of the largest.

The sky was really overcast, so there was not enough light to reveal all of the wonderful detail of these powerful birds. Still, it was nice to be able to capture some images of birds.

Before too long the number of insects will start to diminish and my blog will become increasingly populated by birds. I figure that for another month or so, though, insects will continue to be featured most often, which is good news for some viewers and bad news for others.

American Kestrel

Bald Eagle

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Eagles in flight are always a challenge for me to photograph, so I was really happy when I managed to capture this image of a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that flew by me on Monday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as rays of sunlight illuminated different parts of its body.

Quite often when I spot eagles in flight, they are really high up in the sky and it is difficult to capture details of the majestic birds. As you can probably tell from the angle of view in this shot, this eagle was flying at a relatively low angle when I took this shot. Additionally, the eagle was pretty close—I cropped some from the top of the original image, but not much at all from side to side. In fact, one of the biggest problems I had was keeping the eagle within the frame. On several other images I took, I cut off portions of the wings or of the body.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last Friday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I spotted a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in a distant tree further down the trail. I decided to try to sneak closer to the eagle, hoping it would not see me through the tangle of branches separating us.

When I got close enough for a mostly unobstructed shot, I focused on the eagle and realized it was glaring down right at me with what looked to be disapproval. A few seconds later the eagle took off and disappeared from sight.

Sneaking up on an eagle? I am not sure that it can be done—the eagle’s superior sight and reaction time seem to win out every single time.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

 © Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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At first I thought this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that I spotted today at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge had a really dirty head, but I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s simply the feather pattern of an almost-mature eagle whose head will eventually be all white.

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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This majestic Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was partially hidden behind some branches yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, but I managed to find a visual tunnel and capture this image of it. Most of the time I prefer an uncluttered background, but in this case I really like the organic shapes and patterns of the out-of-focus branches.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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You have to be really careful scratching an itch if you have big talons like this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that I spotted yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

At least one of the eagle couples has recently been observed building a nest, so already a number of paths in the wildlife refuge are now blocked. As I wandered around the refuge, I did spot several eagle couples and some possible nests—it is hard for me to tell if a possible nest is an eagle nest or an osprey nest. Unlike the nest in the closed area, these nests are far enough away from the paths that the human presence is less likely to disturb the eagles. It is at times like this that I am thankful that my telephoto zoom lens extends out to 600mm.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Sometimes you have to ruffle a few feathers if you want to look good. That was certainly the case for this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that I spotted this past Monday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

The eagle poked about with its beak among its feathers and occasionally would shake its entire body to fluff the feathers. I managed to position myself at almost a perfect distance—I was able to observe and photograph the eagle without disturbing it.

As a wildlife photographer, I need to constantly remind myself of the need to be respectful of the creatures whose images I am seeking to capture. This is especially true in the winter, when survival for some of them may be a challenge and I try to minimize my interference with their hunting or food gathering. It’s almost inevitable that I will spook some of them, but my long telephoto zoom lens helps me to keep a good distance between me and potential subjects.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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It’s tough to sneak up on eagles. Their eyesight is so sharp and their reactions so quick that it is a real challenge to spot them before they spot you and take to the air. Yesterday, though, this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge looked right at me and yet remained in place for a little while before finally taking off.

I had spotted the Bald Eagle from a pretty good distance away and had been slowly moving closer to it. There were a lot of branches between me and the eagle, so it was virtually impossible to get an unobstructed shot.

I tried to move mostly when the eagle was looking away, but I am confident that it detected me and stared right at me, as you can see in the first image. The eagle seemed to contemplate the situation for a few moments and turned its head toward the water. Eventually the eagle decided to depart and took off, giving me a wonderful view of the underside of its white tail feathers.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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When they are perched in the open or at the end of bare branches, Bald Eagles are not hard to spot. When they are hidden deeper in the trees, though, it can be a real challenge to see them, like this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that I came upon on 8 December at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Seeing one Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is pretty exciting, but seeing two together is even more awesome. I spotted these two eagles on Monday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

At a certain location within the refuge there is a tall pole, which resembles a telephone pole, with a wooden platform. I am not sure of its purpose, but several times in the past I have seen a bald eagle perching on it. I have tried several times to get shots of the eagle, but have generally been unsuccessful, because of the height of the pole and the fact that I cannot get close to it.

When I spotted an eagle there yesterday morning, I decided to give it another shot, hoping that my monopod would help me to get a sharp enough shot to survive a severe crop. As my eye was pressed to the viewfinder taking some shots, imagine my surprise when another bald eagle entered the frame and landed next to the first one. They perched together for a little while and then the larger of the two, which I later learned is the female, began to embrace the other, eventually using her beak to give what looked like a kind of massage. What was going on?

Thanks to some experienced birders in a Facebook group, I learned that the breeding season for eagles in our area begins in early December and that this is likely a bonded pair. I also discovered that the pecking that I observed, as seen in the second photo below, is almost certainly a kind of courting behavior.

I think that there may be several pairs of bald eagles at this wildlife refuge, so I will keep my eyes open for more of this kind of behavior and for more photographic opportunities.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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It’s almost impossible to sneak up on a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), but that didn’t stop me from attempting to do so this past Friday afternoon at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I was walking along a trail that runs to parallel to the water when I spotted the unmistakable white head of a Bald Eagle. The eagle was partially hidden in a mass of branches and was facing away from me, so I moved forward with as much stealth as I could manage.

When I reached a point where I was shooting up at a rather steep angle, I stopped and waited, hoping the eagle would turn its head to the side and offer me a glimpse of its eyes. Eventually that happened and I shifted from side to side in a desperate attempt to capture an unobstructed view of its eye. Clearly this is not the best shot of a Bald Eagle that I have ever captured, but I do like the pose and the details in its feathers. Besides, it’s a Bald Eagle, a subject that never fails to excite me.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Without fail I will try to get a shot of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) every time that I see one, assuming that I am able to react quickly enough. This past Friday as I wandered about at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I was excited to see Bald Eagles multiple times and to get some shots.

Here are a few favorites from that day. In one case, the eagle was perched on an exposed branch and I was able to get photograph from below it was it taking off. In the second case, the eagle seemed almost buried inside the branches of a tree. It’s difficult to be camouflaged, however, when you have a bright white head. I was able to photograph this one too as it was taking off. Initially I was hesitant about posting the third shot, but I really like the detail in the tail and talons that I captured as the eagle was pushing off, so I decided to include the image.

As I have said multiple times, any day that I see a Bald Eagle is a good day and the response in the past from viewers has reassured me that I am not oversaturating my blog with shots of eagles.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I turned the corner of a trail at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge on Monday, I spotted a large bird perched high in a tree. It didn’t immediately fly away, so I figured it wasn’t an eagle. Zooming in, I realized I was wrong—it was a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) facing in the opposite direction.

I got lots of photos of the back of the eagle’s head, but decided that I wouldn’t share any of them. I knew that eventually the eagle would turn its head and tried to get ready. I snapped off a few photos, including the first one below, when the eagle turned its head and surveyed the area.

I don’t know if it was the noise of the shutter or if it detected motion, but the eagle spotted me and I was able to capture the second shot as it was preparing to take flight. I was thrilled, because this was the closest encounter that I had had with a bald eagle in a long time.

I continued down the trail and a short while later made a turn onto another trail. As I glanced to my left, I saw a perched eagle. I don’t know if it was the same one that I had just observed, but I managed to snap off a few more shots, including the third shot below. I like the way that I was able to capture a bit of the feel of autumn with the red leaves.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of my fellow photographers keeps posting such awesome photos of the birds of Fort Washington Park, a historic fort on the Potomac River in Maryland, that I decided to make a visit there yesterday. Upon arrival, I quickly realized that I did not know exactly where in the park I would be most likely to find wildlife, so I wandered around somewhat aimlessly for most of my time there.

I had been at the park once before and had seen a bald eagle that time, so my eyes looked mostly upwards as I scanned the trees and the sky. Several times I focused my camera on a shape in the trees and was disappointed that it was only a misshapen branch or a clump of leaves. Finally, though, I spotted a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) high in the trees.

Sometimes bald eagles will perch on branches somewhat in the open, but this one was buried among the branches. This photo show my initial view of the eagle as I looked through my lens zoomed all the way out to 600mm.

Bald Eagle

Focusing on eagle was somewhat of a challenge because of all of the branches, but as this blow-up of a part of the image above shows, I was able to capture some pretty good detail.

Bald Eagle

I tried to be stealthy as I moved a bit closer, but the eagle detected my presence and immediately took off. Initially the eagle flew behind the trees, but I managed to acquire my target and capture a number of image before the eagle disappeared in the distance. The lighting was not the greatest and I had to crop the images a good deal, but I am really pleased that I managed to get some relatively sharp views of the eagle’s head.

I am pretty sure that eagles will show up in my blog again in the upcoming months, though not with quite the regularity with which they have appeared recently.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Is it possible to post too many photos of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)? I don’t think so. Here’s a shot of one I saw yesterday flying in the distance at Huntley Meadows Park. It was a nice bonus that we had sunshine and blue skies after a series of dreary, overcast days, even though it was still pretty cold outside.

I see Bald Eagles, including juvenile ones, often enough at the park that I frequently wonder if there is a nest hidden somewhere the park. I have wandered through some pretty remote areas of the park, but so far have been unsuccessful in locating a nesting site.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The sky was pretty overcast early Friday morning at Huntley Meadows Park and the light was limited, so I had to crank up my ISO to 1600. My long telephoto zoom lens works best when there is good light, so I was thrilled that I somehow managed to capture some identifiable shots of this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) as it circled around me before flying away.

Any day I see a bald eagle is a wonderful day.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Recently I posted a photo of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) arriving at a perch with talons extended. Here’s what the same eagle looked like when it eventually left the perch. I love sense of power that the eagle is able to convey when it extends its mighty wings. (The second photo, taken a split-second before the first one, shows the eagle as it was preparing to take off,)

Note that the eagle has a band around his left leg. I wonder how many of the eagles I see at Huntley Meadows Park are banded. I can recall only one other time when I could see a band, but must admit that most of my eagle shots do not have enough detail to be able to tell if a band is present.

Bald Eagle

eagle2_5Mar_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was preparing to land in a tree yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park and had its talons fully extended. With perfect form, the eagle was able to stick and hold the landing.

The judges all gave the eagle a perfect score of 10 for the routine.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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My heartbeat definitely accelerates when a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) flaps its wings and heads straight in my direction, as one did again this past Monday morning. I don’t know why the eagle chose to fly toward me, since I am pretty sure that it was aware of my presence and could have flown away. Perhaps the eagle was simply curious and wanted to check me out.

Eventually the eagle did pull up and fly past me, without getting as close as it might seem from the images. Some readers have asked me if I was near an eagle nest when I posted similar photos in the past. I have seen eagles multiple times in the same general location and suspect there might be a nest nearby, but so far have not located one.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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