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Posts Tagged ‘eagle’

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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