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Posts Tagged ‘Haliaeetus leucocephalus’

When I first spotted two small dark shapes in the the waters of Occoquan Bay, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. As I zoomed in and saw that it was two birds, I assumed that they were cormorants or some similar bird. When the birds changed position and the sun reflected off their white heads, I was shocked to realize that it was two adult Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) perched on a floating log.

The photo is a little deceptive because it makes it look like the foreground is a beach. The tide was fairly low when I took this shot and the shallower water was covered with some kind of floating debris—it was definitely not solid ground.

Why were the eagles on the log? I thought that maybe they were feeding, but when I scanned the log, I could not see any evidence of a fish. It looks to me like this is a couple, with the larger female on the left, that is involved in some kind of marital dispute. She seems to be telling her mate something and he seems to be a bit cowed and defensive.

What do you the conversation is about between these two eagles?

bald eagles

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was thrilled on Tuesday to get a glimpse of several juvenile Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I think that they are the eaglets that were born earlier this year and now it looks like they are almost fully grown. It will take a few more years, however, before they acquire the white feathers on their heads that make them look like they are bald.

The first eaglet was hanging out in the nest when I first spotted it, as you can see in the first shot. There is so much vegetation now that it is hard to see the nest, but I know that it is there. I wasn’t quite ready when the eagle took off so my second shot is a little blurry. I decided to included it, because it provides a pretty cool look at the feathers of this already majestic bird.

The final shot is of what I assume is one of the siblings of the eaglet in the first two shots. Based on a conversation that I had with one of the volunteers at the wildlife refuge, there may have been three eaglets at this nest this year (and two in a nest in another part of the refuge).

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Now that the foliage on the trees  is full, it is hard for me to monitor the status of the baby eagles in several Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nests at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. On Wednesday, however, I detected some motion as I was peering at one of the nests and realized that it was the flapping of an eaglet’s wings. I managed to find a visual tunnel through which my view was mostly unobstructed and was able to capture this view of two eaglets. I was shocked to see how big they have grown and suspect that they soon will be flying.

The nest is probably too small to hold the adults along with the youngsters—what I would call “full nest” syndrome, i.e. the opposite of the more commonly known “empty-nest” syndrome. The second image shows one of the presumed parents perching on a higher branch of the tree in which the nest is located.

Bald Eagle eaglets

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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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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