The feature photo is Duchess, the eagle Mama, taking her turn off the nest, but not venturing far. And here is Duke, staying very close to the nest, keeping close watch. I know which is which because we happened to arrive to find my favorite, and most dedicated, eagle watcher already set up and taking pictures. She is an expert on all the nests in our area. It was fun to keep watch with her and her mom.
Dad also flew off the nest as we packed up our gear to get on with the day, but as we drove away we could see both adults on snags close to the nest. It was a beautiful day and a chance to visit with friends, what could be better?
The feature photo was my first glimpse of the parent eagle keeping watch over the nest on Tuesday. I was riding my trike up the trail, and saw this view of him through a break in the foliage. From right in front of the nest I couldn’t see that eagle at all. I was prepared to hold out to see the baby eaglet though, meaning that I was ready to sit on my trike while I waited. But the reality was that I stood with my camera on the tripod, my right arm up with my finger on the shutter, putting pressure on my shoulder which has been giving me an issue for a while now. I caught a glimpse of what I thought might be the other parent flying in, so I stood there waiting, and shooting, and the first burst of photos was of the empty nest. And then as I scanned my photos in the computer I saw a glimpse of the other eagle flying in with a prize, just not the prize I might have expected. It was a bird, not a fish, and knowing that explains what another onlooker and I were wondering about. After he landed that eagle was obviously tearing at something and tossing whatever it was shredding out of the nest. Feathers! I was a little disappointed that the baby didn’t get up a little higher to see him or her better, but I did manage to see him and get a picture while he still looks like a baby. I missed that stage completely last year. So here is the sequence of events, some but not all of the pictures since there were over 20 photos from only the second or two that it took for him to land.
I was packing up the camera when I noticed two vultures buzzing the nest with a vengeance. I wondered if they were hoping this eagle would chase one of them, leaving the nest unguarded. Thankfully the eagle did a lot of yelling, but didn’t leave. But I did, leave I mean. I hope those good parents keep up their good work.
There you have it, the inspiration for many a photographer to head to Circle B Bar Reserve. It’s a Northern Harrier, and I didn’t expect to see it at all. Or ever. We were on our last stretch of trail, which is wide open to see the sky in all directions, but our intention was to make it back to the car before the battery in the scooter gave out. But we forgot all about that when we saw this bird, circling in the distance. I zoomed my lens to the full 400mm, but in the bright light and at that distance I couldn’t see if it was in the frame or not. But I took the shots anyhow. I’ve seen photographers standing with their cameras on their tripods, just waiting, hoping to see him. If they did I’m sure they got better pictures than this, but for my circumstances I’ll take it.
It was a fun day, but I crashed when I got home and sat down. It wasn’t a nap, I was done for the day. Now to check out some more of the 1334 pictures from yesterday. I was shooting in the fastest burst mode of the new camera, which is great if the bird takes off or something. But when they are still you just have the tiniest little eye blinks or head tilts to decide which is your best shot. But I’m not complaining.
It’s not so unusual that I would see the eagles today because I had already decided that I would wait them out. I’ve done it before, hung around for two or three hours until they made their presence known. The reason I did it today was because they are currently sitting on eggs, so if you wait long enough the egg-sitter will be relieved by his or her mate. It will happen, but it will try your patience waiting for it sometimes.
Yes, there are other amazing animals at ZooTampa, although you’d hardly know it based on my fixation with orangutans. This last trip to the zoo was our first chance to visit the newly completed Florida exhibit that has been under construction for quite a while now. Obviously we are surrounded by Florida wildlife every day, but we don’t get to see them up close and personal the way we did at the zoo.
Of course the star of the Florida exhibit was the Florida panther in the feature photo. It was a treat to see one, and this one looked quite content in his new habitat. Later we heard that we missed the stork chicks in the Africa exhibit, but it was time to meet the group for lunch, and we were hungry. So that means another trip to the zoo will be in order, but in a few weeks, not while spring break is in full swing here.
Let me highly recommend the series from National Geographic called Secrets of ZooTampa. So much goes on behind the scenes, it’s very interesting. And, much to my delight, the segment on orangutans covered the birth of Riplee, my favorite baby boy.