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Posts Tagged ‘Haliaeetus leucocephalus’

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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