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Posts Tagged ‘juvenile Bald Eagle’

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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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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Can you spot perched birds at a distance or do you need them to move in order for you to see them? Generally I need some movement for me to pick them out and it has been sometimes frustrating in the past not to be able to see birds that are almost right in front of me.

Yesterday morning, however, I managed to spot a Juvenile Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that was perched in a distant tree. Actually, I didn’t know initially that it was a Bald Eagle and I wasn’t even sure that it was a bird. I was scanning the trees on the other side of a small pond with my telephoto zoom lens extended to 600mm when I noticed a dark shape among the branches. I took a quick shot and zoomed in on the screen on my camera and was thrilled to see that it was some kind of raptor. This shot gives you an idea of what I was seeing.

Bald Eagle

It was early morning and there were a lot of clouds, but periodically the sun would break through and illuminate the scene. I made a few adjustments to my camera and, of course, that is when the eagle took off. The eagle initially flew in the direction it is facing and my shots became a hopeless mess of branches that were in focus and an eagle that was not in focus.

Suddenly the eagle began to change directions and gradually started to head back in my direction, flying a bit closer to me. I was finally able to get some in-flight shots that are pretty much in focus, although they did require some cropping.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

As the eagle flew away, I was able to get this final shot. The eagle’s face is mostly hidden, but there is something that I really like about the wing position and details and the way that some of the clouds are visible in the sky.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was cool and cloudy yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park, but my spirits were brightened considerably when I saw three Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) soaring briefly over the park. It looked to be two adults and one juvenile, perhaps a family on a Saturday outing.

The eagles were pretty far away and I had my telephoto zoom lens extended as far as it could go as I attempted to track the flying eagles. Occasionally two of them or even all three would come into the frame for a split second, but then they would be soaring off into different parts of the sky.

I’m including an assortment of shots to give you a sense of the experience. I consider any day that I spot a Bald Eagle and get recognizable shots of it to be a wonderful day.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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In the early morning hours above Huntley Meadows Park, all kinds of birds are flying about, like this immature Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that I spotted yesterday.

A year ago, I probably would have guessed that this was a hawk, but my identification skills have improved somewhat and I can tell this is an eagle. Given that it takes about five years for a Bald Eagle to mature, I’d guess that this one is about two to three years old, though I defer to more expert birdwatchers on this point.

As you can probably tell, the eagle was moving from right to left as I tracked it over the treetops. I was shooting over a small pond at a pretty good distance in early morning light that was not yet bright, so my ISO was cranked up a bit. I especially like the shots that include the trees. Although I will try to photograph an eagle every time I see one, I think it is a nice extra when I manage to include part of the surroundings in the shot.

Bald EagleBald EagleBald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Can you react faster than an eagle can? Yesterday, I was getting ready to step out of the brush that surrounds one of the ponds at my local marsh, when I spotted a large dark shape in a dead tree that overlooks the water. I suspected that it might be a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), since I had seen eagles perched on this tree a couple of times in the past.

As I stepped forward and was starting to bring my camera to my eye, a juvenile Bald Eagle took off. The eagle flew upwards so quickly that I had trouble finding it and keeping it in my viewfinder, as you can see in my first shot. I got a few more shots as I tracked the eagle’s flight, but in most of them, the eagle’s head is obscured by its outstretched wings. Just before the eagle flew behind the trees in the distance, I got a reasonably clear shot, the second image below.

What did I learn? If an eagle spots me at the same time that I spot him, his reaction times are going to be quicker than mine. Someone I’m going to have to figure out a way to be more stealthy and more ready the next time I find myself in a situation like this. That will be my challenge this autumn as I start to take more shots of birds as the insect population gradually decreases.

eagle1_blog_sepeagle2_blog_sep© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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