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Posts Tagged ‘Haliaeetus leucocephalus’

I was thrilled yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge to spot this beautiful Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Unfortunately it also spotted me. I captured these images as the eagle began to take off and then as it was flying away.

I was looking for an uncommon dragonfly that had been seen recently at this refuge, so I had my macro lens on my camera and was mostly looking down. As I was passing through a section of the trail that had a lot of tree cover, though, I heard what I thought was the call of an eagle. I slowed down and started scanning the trees. I spotted eagle out on a limb when I stepped partially out of the tree cover. I knew that I was exposed and would be seen, so I positioned myself and prepared for what I anticipated would happen.

I am surprised that I was able to capture such detailed images considering that I was shooting with such a short lens—my 180mm macro lens has an equivalent field of view of a 288mm lens because my camera has an APS-C crop sensor. Be sure to double click on the images if you want to see the details of this majestic bird, including its beak and its talons.

In a way, however, it was an advantage that I was not shooting with my zoom lens, because I could focus all of my efforts on tracking the eagle and did not have to worry about zooming in and out. For example, if I had zoomed in on the eagle for the second shot when its body was compact, I would probably have clipped its wings when it spread them wide open in the third shot.

I did not find the dragonfly that I was looking for, but, as I have said repeatedly in this blog, any day that I see a bald eagle is a good day, especially when I manage to photograph it.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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At this time of the year it is hard to spot Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) when they are almost hidden by the vegetation. I was really excited to get a tiny peek at this one yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, my first eagle sighting in months. The eagle spotted me when I tried to move in for a closer shot and flew off. It is tough get a good shot when your subject has sharper vision and quicker reactions than you do.

As I mentioned in a post a few days ago, however, eagles have “stopping power” for me—I will invariably try to photograph a bald eagle when I see one, even if it is far away and almost hidden. Besides, I figured that some of you might like a momentary respite from an almost steady diet of insect photos recently.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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It has been a month since I visited the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, where I spotted an eaglet on 19 May and wrote a posting entitled “One little eaglet.” Yesterday I traveled to the refuge to check on the baby eagle and was a little surprised to find that the authorities had removed the barriers that had blocked access to the nesting area, which is adjacent to a trail. Did this mean that the eaglet had fledged and the family had left the nest?

I was happy to discover that the eaglet was still there, has grown considerably in size over the past month, and was sitting tall at one edge of the nest. The leaf coverage has also grown, making it pretty tough to get an unobstructed view of the little eagle. The vegetation also hid the presence of one of the parent eagles that flew away to a nearby grove of trees when I approached.

It is somehow reassuring to see that the cycle of life has continued undisturbed as our lives have been turned upside down by the global pandemic. I celebrate the new life of this young eagle and all of the other creatures who have begun their lives this spring and wish them success as they learn to navigate the challenges of their lives.

 

Bald Eagle eaglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at a prominent nesting site at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge were late this year in nesting and I feared that they might not have any babies. I was therefore thrilled yesterday to discover that there is now an eaglet in the nest when I returned to that part of the refuge for the first time in a couple of months.

Authorities at the refuge set up barriers to keep the nesting eagles from being disturbed, so I had to observe the nest from a long way off. When I first arrived at the barrier yesterday, I could not tell if there were any eaglets. However, I noted that one of the parent eagles was perched on a limb above and to the right of the nest. In the past, I learned that when eaglets start to grow, there is no longer any room for a parent in the nest, so having one parent keeping guard near the nest was a positive sign.

I waited and waited and eventually the other parent eagle flew in and perched on a limb above and to the left of the nest. I was peering though my fully-extended telephoto zoom lens and noticed a dark shape pop up in the middle of the nest shortly after the second parent arrived. When I looked at my shots afterwards, I confirmed that there was an eaglet in the nest.

In the first shot, it looks like the eaglet was calling to its parent, although I did not hear a sound, or maybe was indicating it was hungry. I pulled back my zoom lens to its widest setting for the second shot, in which you can see both eagle parents and the eaglet in the nest in the center (you may want to click on the image to see more details).

I think that there is only one eaglet this year, though I can’t be absolutely certain. In past years there have been either one of two eaglets in this nest. Now that I know that there is a new little eaglet, I will probably try to return to the site to monitor its progress over the upcoming weeks and months.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On Friday morning, the temperature was only 38 degrees F (3 degrees C), so I abandoned my macro lens, assuming that insects would not be active, and switched back to my telephoto zoom lens. I returned to my favorite location, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge (OBNWR), to look for birds. This location is relatively remote and has few amenities, which means that it is rarely crowded—there have been times in the past when my car was the only one in the parking lot. Unlike many parks in our area, OBNWR remains open and it has become my place of refuge.

It has been almost a month or so since my last visit, so I was not sure which birds would be active. As you may have seen in yesterday’s posting, some warblers are now passing through our area. While it is nice to welcome these colorful visitors, I was perhaps even happier to spot some of my favorite year-round residents, the Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). There are at least two active eagle nests in the refuge and one of the volunteers there told me that there is already an eaglet in one of the nests.

I captured these two images not far from the nest with the eaglet, so it is quite possible that at least one of these eagles is a parent. The early morning sunshine was quite beautiful and I love the way that it illuminated the side of the eagle’s face in the first image. The second image gives you an idea of the amount of leaves now on the trees, which makes it difficult to spot birds, especially the smaller ones. Fortunately the white coloration of the bald eagles and ospreys and their large size makes it hard for them to hide completely.

It is reassuring to see that the cycle of life is continuing normally in nature even when our lives have been completely disrupted and most of us are confined and/or in isolation.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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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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Yesterday morning I was delighted to spot this immature Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It takes approximately five years for a Bald Eagle to gets its classic white head and I estimate this one to be about three years old, judging from its coloration.

Initially I spotted the eagle when it flew into the midst of a group of trees. I moved around only a little, fearful of spooking the bird, and captured the second shot below when the eagle leaned forward a little and exposed its head. Moving as stealthily as I could, I maneuvered to a position from which I had a somewhat clearer shot and captured the third shot below. I noted that the eagle was crouching, which is often a prelude to taking off, but the eagle remained in place.

Eventually I reached a little opening and was able to capture the first image, which I think is the best of the group. The tree in which the eagle is perched is, I believe, a sycamore. Unlike the sweet gum trees with spiky seed balls that have appeared in many of my perched eagle shots, the seed balls of this tree appear to be much smoother.

If you are interested in the developmental stages of a Bald Eagle and how its appearance changes over time, I recommend that you check out a posting from onthewingphotography.com entitled “Bald Eagles – Age Progression from one to five years old” that features wonderful photographs of each stage.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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There are at least two Bald Eagle nests (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the location where I take many of my wildlife photos. One of them is located adjacent to a popular trail and most years the authorities close nearby trails during eagle nesting season. There has been a lot of construction at the refuge over the past few months and, although I saw an eagle couple at that nesting site on several occasions, it looks like they may not have occupied that nest this year (and the trails have not been closed).

The second nest, pictured below, is in a more remote location—it is visible through the trees from one of the trails, but is surrounded by dense vegetation, so the eagles are more insulated from human activity. On a recent visit to the refuge, I was pleased to spot both members of an eagle couple in the nest. I am pretty sure that the eagle on the left is the male, because male eagles tend to be considerably smaller than their female counterparts.

With a bit of luck I hope to be able to spot some eaglets here in the upcoming months, although I noted last year that it is a real challenge to do so, because the wall of this large nest appear to be quite high and effectively hide the eagles from view.

Bald Eagle

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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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How do Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) show affection? I am not sure exactly what these two eagles were doing when I spotted them on Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Were they singing to each other? Maybe they doing some version of eagle French kissing? Whatever the case, the eagles definitely seemed to be enjoying spending the time close together, beak-to-beak, showing love in their own ways.

Happy Valentine’s Day as you show love in your own way. Although this holiday traditionally is focused on couples, I think that singles like me should also celebrate love today—I love flowers and am planning to get some later today. It is more than ok to love yourself, so go ahead and treat yourself today—you are worth it.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I didn’t realize that this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was eating its breakfast when I inadvertently spooked it last Thursday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. There was no way the eagle was going to leave the fish behind, however, so it decided to take its fish “to go” when it took to the air.

When I first looked at this image, I was not sure if I liked it—it is pretty obvious that I was shooting through some branches and parts of the eagle are blurred out by them. When I examined the shot more closely, though, the positioning of the fish in the eagle’s mouth and the awesome details of the talons and tail made me decide that it was worth posting.

bald eagle

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Why do eagles scream? Most of the times when I hear a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) screaming, the eagle is by itself and appears to be signaling its location to its mate. This past Monday, though, I spotted a Bald Eagle couple perched together on an osprey nesting site not far from their nesting location. The eagles seem to enjoy hanging out at this location that gives them a clear view of the tree in which the nest is located.

I am posting this little sequence of photos out of order, because the first image best tells a story, although it is not completely clear what that story is. The female eagle, the larger of the two, is on the lower level and seems to be screaming at her mate who is perched higher on the pole. A moment earlier they were both on the lower level and both eagles appeared to be calm, as you can see in the second image. Then the male hopped to the higher level and the female began to scream.

In the final shot, the female has turned away and the male is now screaming. Was he responding to his mate or was he screaming at something else? I guess you can connect the dots of this story in any way that you like.

As I was doing a little research on screaming eagles I came across a fascinating National Public Radio (NPR) article entitled “Bald Eagle: A Mighty Symbol, With A Not-So-Mighty Voice.” The article posits that most people have an incorrect idea of what an eagle scream sounds like and blames Hollywood. According to bird expert Connie Stanger, “Unfortunately for the bald eagle, it has like a little cackling type of a laugh that’s not really very impressive for the bird” and in most movies the sound of the eagle is actually dubbed by a Red-tailed Hawk. (I imagine a hawk in a sound booth with headphones dubbing over the eagle’s calls.)

If you click on the link above and then click the button on the website called “57 Second Listen,” you can hear a short clip of the NPR broadcast that includes both the call of the eagle and that of the Red-tailed Hawk. As for the question in the posting’s title, I personally like to think that it was a conversation, but acknowledge the distinct possibility that they were individually responding to a commonly-perceived threat. I think that my interpretation allows for more creative possibilities as I try to imagine the domestic conversations of a Bald Eagle couple. 🙂

bald eagles

bald eagles

bald eagles

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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From a distance, I could see that a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was in the nest on Monday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. As I have noted in the past, the tree with the nest is right beside one of the trails at the refuge. Normally I approach the nest from the same direction and an eagle can see me from a pretty good distance away because the trail runs through an open field.

This time, however, I was walking from the opposite direction and the tree trunk blocked my view of the eagle as I got closer, which meant that it probably kept the eagle from spotting me. The first shot shows my initial look at the eagle once it came into view as I approached from the right. At this point, I think the eagle was unaware of my presence and I tried to remain as stealthy as I could.

I moved forward a bit more and continued to observe the eagle, completely in awe its beauty and majesty. My peaceful reverie was broken when I head the sounds of people approaching. Perhaps they were speaking at a normal conversational level, but it sure sounded loud to me. In the second shot, the eagle was looking in the direction of the noise. Had it heard the others? In the final shot, the eagle seemed to be looking right at me, having finally become aware of the fact that I was there.

The eagle did not take off immediately, but a short while later it flew off to a nearby osprey nesting platform. Later in the day I observed two eagles on the platform, which seems to be a favorite perching spot for the eagle couple.

It won’t be long before the refuge closes the trail from which I was taking the photos. I am wishing the best for the eagle couple as they move into nesting season. Last year there was one eaglet in this nest, I believe, and the year before there were two.

Bald Eagle

bald eagle

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I spotted this Bald Eagle last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The eagle was initially mostly hidden by branches, but I managed to get a clear shot of its head when it leaned forward and started to take off.

This month I have been particularly fortunate in finding eagles and in getting some pretty good shots of them. It is almost time for them to be nesting and before long portions of the refuge will be closed to keep the eagles from being disturbed. In the mean time I continue to walk the trails, trying to stay alert as I scan the trees and the skies for the possible presence of one of these majestic birds.

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I never get tired of photographing Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Here is a shot of one taking off from a tree last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. My view was partially obscured by branches, but I somehow managed to keep the eagle’s eye in focus.

I never got a fully clear shot of the eagle when it was perched, so it was a happy surprise that I was able to capture this image when it started to take off. I think the eagle’s pose here is more dynamic than any shot I could have taken when it was in a static position, so it is not a huge loss that I have no perched pose.

bald eagle takeoff

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although I am normally a little unhappy when I cut off the tip of a bird’s wings when taking its photo, the intensity of this Bald Eagle(Haliaeetus leucocephalus) more than made up for any sense of disappointment and I am actually thrilled with these shots. I was standing close only a short distance from the eagle last Thursday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and was concentrating on photographing it while it was perched. When the eagle suddenly extended its wings and took off without warning, my immediate reaction was to concentrate on tracking it rather than worry about pulling back on the zoom and in all three of these photos I clipped the wings.

I decided to present the photos in reverse chronological order, because the first image is my favorite. If you look closely you will note that the eagle snagged a few spiky balls from the sweet gum tree in which it was perched, sending them flying and leaving one stuck in its tucked-in talons. You can also see how the eagle generated its initial lift with a flap of its impressive wings in the final photo and then pushed off with its talons to clear the branches in the penultimate image.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A number of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were active yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and I managed to capture this sequence of images as one of them was in the process of taking off from its perch.

I had accidentally spooked this eagle from its previous perch a bit earlier and was fortunately to be able to visually track the it to the new perch, a tree in the middle of a large field. The high vegetation surrounding the trail gave me some cover as I moved along the trail until I was in sight of the eagle again. I waited and watched the eagle, hoping to detect signs when it was preparing to depart. When the eagle bent down a little, I suspected that it was getting ready to fly away and I guessed right.

My zoom lens was extended to its maximum focal length (600mm) for these shots, so I was really happy that I was able to capture the full wing extension in the final shot—I am often prone to clip off the tips of the wings in situations like this. The final shot is my favorite in this sequence and I encourage you to click on the image to see the wonderful details more clearly, like the position of the talons as the eagle pushed off from the tree.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at one of the nesting sites at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge looked to be renovating their nest this past week. In the first shot, the female eagle was taking a short break from arranging the sticks around the edge of the nest. The second shot gives you a wider view of the nesting site and also shows the male eagle perched higher in the tree and to the right.

The male eagle arrived at the tree first and a short time later the female flew in and began to work. The male seems to be keeping watch over his mate and surveilling the overall situation.

I was planning to watch the eagles for an extended period of time, but unfortunately a loud group of visitors approached from the opposite direction and spooked the two eagles. In the upcoming weeks, I expect the refuge authorities to close off some of the adjacent trails to allow the eagles to nest in peace. I was therefore really happy to have had the chance to see the bald eagles during these preliminary stages of renovating their nest.

Bald Eagle nest

Bald Eagle nest

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Recently I mentioned that I had spotted a pair of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at a nearby “suburban pond” and realized that readers may have differing ideas of what such an environment looks like. The pond is man-made and serves as a storm water retention pond. A gentleman who lives nearby told me that it is 35 feet deep (1066 cm) at its deepest point. There is a path that goes around the pond, which is bounded by a complex of townhouses on one side, by roads on two sides, and by a wooded area on the final side.

Last week I captured a series of images of an eagle swooping down and pulling what I think was a small fish from that pond. I was a long way off and the focus is not as sharp as I would have liked it, but I think the photos show pretty clearly how close the pond is to a road. You can see some vehicles, traffic signs, and even the signals for a crosswalk. I really like the fact that I can see a pretty good variety of wild creatures in this pond. Initially I thought that there were only ducks and geese there, but I have also seen Great Blue Herons and Double-crested Cormorants, and now even Bald Eagles.

Perhaps you have a similar small body of water where you live. I encourage you to check it out and you may surprised to find a lot of wildlife living there.

Balg Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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As I was observing ducks and gulls earlier this week on a small suburban pond, most of them suddenly took the air. Instinctively I looked up, suspecting that there was a hawk or eagle overhead, and sure enough I spotted a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).

I extended my telephoto zoom lens and tried to focus on the moving bird and was a bit surprised when a second eagle flashed across the frame—it was a pair of Bald Eagles. The eagles made several passes over the pond and I was happy to be able to capture these shots, including a couple of images with both of the eagles in the same frame.

This is the first time that I have seen Bald Eagles at this location, but hopefully will not be the last time.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I have gotten older, I have rediscovered the joy of taking naps. When I was a child, I seem to recall rebelling a bit against the idea of a forced midday nap, but now I look forward to them. Sunday afternoon naps have become part of my routine and now that I have retired, I sometimes indulge myself without waiting for the weekend.

Several of the Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that I spotted on Thursday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge seemed to share my fondness for napping. In the first shot below, the Bald Eagle looked like it was just settling in for a long winter’s nap. The eagle’s head is bowed forward in the familiar position that I used during my recent transatlantic flights when drifting off to sleep. I am mildly amused by the fluffiness of the head feathers on this “bald” eagle—the head feathers remind me of the wigs worn by British barristers.

The second image shows a Bald Eagle couple. The male eagle, the smaller one to the left, appears to be alert, but his female partner seems to be asleep. Female eagles are larger than their male counterparts, but this female has magnified that size differential by a rather extreme fluffing of her feathers. (I am assuming that eagles tighten their talons while napping, so that any sudden movements while asleep do not not dislodge them from their perches.)

 

Bald Eagle

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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I have had unusually good luck finding Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) this month at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, including this one that I spotted on Monday. Most often when I see an eagle, it flies away before I can get close, which is not really surprising given its superior eyesight and reaction time.

This time, though, I was able to approach the eagle until I was almost directly below the tree in which it was perched. In the wintertime, that might have allowed me to get some awesome close-up shots, but in this case my view of the eagle was almost completely blocked by the abundant foliage. I moved around a little until I was finally able to see the eagle’s eye and captured the first image below. The second image was my initial view of the eagle before I started to creep closer. I like that shot a lot, but it seems to me that it doesn’t quite have the same visual impact as the first shot.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Any day that I spot a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a good day. Yesterday qualified as a great day when I was able to capture an image of a Bald Eagle taking off from the slender branches of a tree at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I was a bit shocked when I initially spotted the eagle perched in a cluster of leaves overhanging one of the trails at the wildlife refuge—presumably there was a branch in there somewhere, but it did not seem substantial enough to hold the weight of an eagle.

I zoomed in all the way with my 150-600mm lens and was able to get a pretty detailed shot of the eagle, as you can see in the final shot. The eagle turned its head in various directions and I knew that I did not have much time before it decided to take off. When the eagle turned its body toward the water and began to crouch, I tried to ready myself and anticipate the direction of its initial movement. In most of the shots in the burst that I took, the eagle’s wings blocked its face or extended well beyond the edges of the frame, but I was pretty happy with the one that I posted as the initial photo in this posting.

Why did the eagle choose such a precarious perch? I have no idea why, but I am happy that it gave me the chance to get these shots.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was so well hidden in a tree on Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge that I almost missed it. Fortunately I caught a glimpse of the sun reflecting off of its bright white head and was able to move close enough to capture this image.

As you may have noticed in recent postings, I have marked the changing of the seasons by changing my “walk around” lens from a Tamron 180mm macro lens to a Tamron 150-600mm telephoto zoom lens. This means that it is easier for me to get photos of birds like this eagle, but tougher, though not impossible, to capture images of the remaining butterflies and dragonflies.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am blessed to live in an area in which Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are present throughout most of the year. During the summer, however, my encounters have been pretty infrequent, so I was excited to spot this one on Monday while visiting Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I was looking for dragonflies that day and had a macro lens on my DSLR camera and I realized the eagle was too far away for me to capture a decent image.

It was precisely for situations like this that I also carry my Canon SX50 super-zoom camera. The resolution of this camera is not as good as that of my “big” camera, but it gives me a lot of reach. After I had zoomed in to take the first shot, I zoomed out and realized that there was a second bald eagle perched above the one I had just photographed. The second shot shows the relative positions of the two eagles.

I was hoping for better head positions for the two eagles, but they flew away shortly after I took the second shot. I have discovered that it is usually best to get a shot as early as possible in such encounters and then work to get a better shot. If I had waited for the “perfect” moment, I almost certainly would have come up empty-handed.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagles

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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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

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