The weather was calling me to get out of the house. It was sunny and warm, not hot. And there was a breeze to ruffle the eagle’s feathers. When I thought I’d check to see if the eagles were hanging around the nest I thought it was going to be too late in the day to see them. Or that the sun would have them in silhouette. I’m glad I didn’t listen to that voice in my head because one was there, sitting on a snag. Maybe he was enjoying the weather as much as I was. Soon there will be eggs, and both eagles will be on the nest daily. And I can hardly wait. I can’t stop at the nest without also stopping at Anclote River Park also. Another nice day.
It was owls first on Tuesday, and then we headed over to see the eagles. As you can see, the ‘babies’ aren’t hard to spot these days. That cute fuzzy stage doesn’t last long, I think this is their awkward adolescence. And that shy second chick seems to have gotten over it too. We didn’t stay long, didn’t wait for parents to put in an appearance, It was almost a drive-by.
And if that was almost a drive-by then our next stop at really was a drive-by. Just down the street is Anclote River Park, and it’s a given there that if there is a post then a pelican will be sitting on it. So we shot out the car window in true. drive-by style.
We parted company after that, and my trip home took me right past the rookery, so a stop there seemed like a no-brainer. I was the only one there, but lots of people stop their cars to see what is going when they see you on a ladder with your camera. They are always amazed and usually have no clue what birds they are seeing, and say that they never noticed the birds before. And I don’t mind the distraction since things are on hold there at the moment. Egg-sitting and standing guard seem to be the order of the day while we wait for the hatching to begin.Except for the egrets. They fluff out those feathers and ‘display’, I think it’s called. In one fluid motion they stretch their neck up, and up some more, and then bow down, to no one in particular. Hmm, I should probably look that up…
The thing of it is, when you know of an eagle nest that you can visit you have a short window of watching the eaglets as they are being raised. So after my errands I went to check the nest yesterday and then had to delete all my photos. Late in the day the light is behind them leaving them in silhouette, which meant that today I would be sure to go early. There were a few photographers watching this morning, all of us arriving by 8 AM, and then we waited. One eagle was in the tree above the nest and we were anticipating the second eagle arriving with breakfast. Eventually an osprey started the action.
Not this one, this one showed up later and tempted fate by flying over the nest with it’s fish in it’s talons. No, the first one perched up the street on a snag and the eagle in the tree took off to chase it off. But the eagle didn’t give chase, he/she perched in a tree that gave us a nice view of him as well as the nest. And we waited.
Even the eagle was bored enough to yawn. Finally this eagle took off and we all were excited for when it would return and we would see the babies. So we waited some more and sure enough, he/she eventually returned.
Even the elusive second chick put in an appearance. But the two of them are like whack a mole, when one’s head is up the other one is down. But we saw them both stretching their wings. Way more wing spread than I would have assumed.
Here they are, both in the same shot, even if the eaglet who is usually much more visible took this moment to be looking the other way. The clouds rolled in the longer we waited. A far cry from the nice blue sky and puffy clouds when we first arrived. Photography may get me out of the house, but it doesn’t offer much exercise when you spend a couple of hours standing in one place waiting for something to happen. Not that I’m complaining. And I have to admit that I have learned to stop expecting a bird that I see in the sky, soaring on the wind currents, to be an eagle. Whenever I do see an eagle in flight it seems that the are focused on someone, flying with a purpose in mind.
My assumption that heading to the eagle nest for pictures would be a sure thing was definitely optimistic. Why wouldn’t I think that after Monday’s great day of shooting? So I went yesterday, determined to get better acquainted with the lens and tripod I hadn’t used for probably a year, not since the last time I had gone out for photos of owls. As usual there were photographers there when I got there, and I learned that the babies had been fed earlier. Dad was on the nest with the babies, they said, and we saw Mom fly in and land in some pine trees out of reach of our lenses. And that’s how things stood for the couple of hours I was there. My attention wandered to the faint moon still showing in the sky, and eventually I wandered to the fishing pier where I found the tide lower than I had ever seen it. It was amazing to think that I’ve stood on that pier and watched dolphins swimming right below me, but not this time.
When I got home I looked through the pictures I’d gotten, few that they were, and I looked again at what I’d taken on Monday and found a few more that I liked. And that was that. But it was a nice day to be outside enjoying the weather and chatting with the other people keeping vigil. It seemed we all left at about the same time, I wonder what excitement may have happened later. What did we miss? Maybe that’s what keeps us going back…
I was up north last winter when the nearby eagles were raising their young, so it’s a treat to watch them now. I’m an amateur, I think some of the photographers I saw there are there nearly every day. But I hadn’t been in a couple of weeks so. When I saw that the eaglets were already popping their heads up out of the nest I needed to play catch-up. It was so fun to watch, or pretend to, since I was struggling to focus. I needed to focus manually with my big lens and extender, and no matter what I did it didn’t appear to be in focus. All the while the other photographers were exclaiming over how cute the little ones were, so I finally ditched the extender and stuck with my 150-600 Tamron lens, which allows auto focus. To see these tiny creatures at all is amazing since they really are quite a distance away.
Seeing a parent fly in with a fish started the action for me. My fellow watchers were remarking on how tired this eagle was. I asked how you could tell and the answer was that it was panting, like a dog. They were also all excited when they spotted two eaglets! I just shot picture after picture and hoped I had gotten something. If I heard them shooting then I did too. But after a while I was able to sort out what I was seeing through the lens and yes, there were two of them. The other parent was in a nearby tree, arriving soaking wet, and I caught this image as he ‘shook his tail feathers’.
But I can’t leave this on such a silly note, when we all know just how regal they are, even when wet.
Yup, there is feeding going on, which means that if you stand there long enough you will get your chance to see the parents switch off chick-sitting duties. That’s a given once you know that they have a hatchling. But you can’t predict whether or not the fog will roll in, even on a day that started out looking beautiful. Not that that would stop any of us. There was a small crowd of photographers waiting for each appearance by the parents. The nest seems tipped away from our view so that hatchling will have to grow a bit before we see him. Or possibly them. You know I’ll be checking in on them again soon.