birds, eagles, Florida wildlife, life, natural wonders, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, on closer examination, photography

Eaglets…

I asked Siri what baby eagles are called, and eaglets was the answer.  I was afraid I’d made that word up when I considered using it.  One of my fellow stalkers of the nest, and I say that with all respect, happened to speak with an official from Pasco County yesterday.  When asked if he would like to receive photos from the photographers who have been concentrating on the nest the official said yes.  And that is what made me go back to my last visit and look, really look, at my photos from that day.  Sometimes after being out for quite a while taking the photos, and then coming home and writing a blog post, I tend to narrow my vision to what fits the subject I’m writing about.  Telling the story of the day as it happened, and not posting a ridiculous number of photos.  In looking back at the photos for Pasco County I realized that what I’d most like to see is the eaglets, as clearly as possible.  And when you consider the distance involved, the size of the eaglets, and the angle from which you are forced to take the photos, it is amazing that these photos are even possible.  That’s technology for you, not necessarily the photographer.  So the post for the 3rd of February is probably outdated since those little guys change so rapidly.  All the more reason to post them now, because the next time I manage to make it to the nest they’ll probably look entirely different.1-29onthenest11-29onthenest21-29onthenest31-29onthenest41-29onthenest51-29onthenest61-29onthenest7The images of them being fed are the most frustrating to get.  In person you can see what’s going on.  The parent shreds a morsel from whatever unfortunate creature has found itself as dinner, and then turns it’s head and the eaglet takes the morsel from it’s beak.  I’m not sure I’d have imagined that activity from a still photograph.  And I’m finding myself making the same assumptions that I did last year over the Sandhill cranes.  One baby seemed more adventurous and the other more quiet and subdued.  That’s how I’m seeing the eaglets, one is easy to spot, but the other doesn’t seem to lift it’s head up to check out the world nearly as often.  Patience is a virtue, especially for a nature photographer, or so it seems to me…

I wrote this this morning (Friday), and then my plans for the day changed so I went to the nest.  I was surprised that I saw no eagles, babies or parents.  After a while I took my phone out of my pocket and was dismayed to see a message from a friend that it is suspected that the babies have died.  Heartbreaking news, I felt guilty just walking away. I drove to a nearby park, and on my way home I saw photographer friends all set up at the nest.  They were aware of the possible problem, but they were planning to stay anyhow.  The eagles were in the area, but not on the nest…

birds, eagles, Florida wildlife, nature, nesting, photography

A long day…

I joined a 10-day photo challenge on my photo group.  As an exercise it’s meant to get you out and taking pictures.  You may have figured out that I don’t need a whole lot of encouragement to do exactly that.  ‘Choose your best picture of the day and post it’, but just one, was the instruction.  I thought that sounded like fun so I signed on for the challenge, even though I’m easily intimidated and have only posted one photo on that group so far.  Then I read someone’s helpful hints about things to keep in mind for your photo and editing for the challenge, and it took on a whole different, and not so much fun, sort of aspect.   So I went out for the sunrise at Bayport yesterday, but it didn’t happen.  There was a misty rain, and I thought a red glow in the mist might be nice, but instead of a glow the fog rolled in while I was waiting.  But I did get this photo, which I captioned, “Quoth the Grackle, Nevermore”.  Day TwoThe dogs and I found this visitor out on the lake when we got home from our walk…1-29newneighborA Wood Stork!  It wasn’t so long ago that I saw my first one in person at Jenkin’s Creek, which isn’t all that far away, but I’ve never seen one out back before.  So even though I wanted to go check on the eagles again I stopped to take his picture first.  1-29twolittle ones1-29twochowdownFinally, I was at the eagle’s nest, and the misty rain had cleared, and nothing was going on.  There was one eagle only, guarding the nest from the branch above. I did notice a lot of vultures in the immediate area and they seemed to be concentrating on the nest.  I saw her calling, but her mate didn’t come right away.  She stood her ground at that point, but did chase off one vulture a bit later.  When she came back she landed on the nest and was tending it again.

Right about then I heard someone say hello, and I discovered, to my surprise, that there was another photographer standing beside me, with his tripod and camera all decked out in camouflage trimmings.  He was from Connecticut and just visiting down here, he said.  He saw me with my camera and stopped, and was hoping that I wasn’t watching an Osprey since they have plenty of them to photograph in Connecticut.  He was quite happy when I pointed out the eagle and the nest, and shortly after that we saw one baby pop it’s head up.  When I told him that there were two of them, but one still didn’t appear, he told me that they can be aggressive, the babies can, and that if there isn’t enough food then one baby might devour it’s sibling. Now I knew I wasn’t leaving unless I saw two babies, and thankfully that happened, but not until shortly after he left.  I took 250 pictures yesterday, but the only ones that really mattered were the couple that showed the two chicks.  I still had a class to go to in Clearwater last night.  It was a long day…

 

 

eagles, Florida wildlife, life, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, photography

Nature and nurture…

It was domestic bliss at the nest today.  As one parent watched from the branch above the other parent was tending the young.  Two of them for sure, and I saw a comment that there could be another one.  I had a perfect view through the lens as one baby was fed, and I clicked away, but every single one of those pictures turned out blurry.  Darn it.

I looked up the life cycle of the eagle today and learned that they are nomads for their first four years of life.  This is when they are most vulnerable, and I saw an estimate that only 1 in 10 makes it to adulthood.  They mate at 5 years old, mating for life, and building a nest that they return to year after year.  They ado thenest every year, which is how the nests can become such architectural marvels.  The nest is always high in the tallest tree around, and close to water so they can fish.  The eggs hatch in about 35 days, and it’s 10 to 12 weeks until they fledge (fly).  They will spend several more months in the area perfecting their skills before they are on their own.  In the wild they live 20 to 30 years.

But for the time being I want to simply enjoy the little ones as they grow.  And while we wait for the Sandhill Cranes to get down to business…

 

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birds, eagles, Florida wildlife, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, photography, sky

Defending the nest…

My fellow photographers inspired a trip back to the eagle nest today.  One photographer has been getting shots of baby eagles at a nest she visits, and it made me wonder how ‘our’ eagles are doing.  And beyond that, I heard that the eagles have been being harassed by vultures, and that they had to drive the vultures off several times yesterday.

I got there today about 2 PM and the eagle was tending the nest as you see it above, not in the nest but above it.  There have always been vultures in the air when I’ve ben there, but they have been off in the distance.  Today I counted 12 at one time in the air, and the eagle was constantly scanning the sky as I watched.1-24nesteagle1You can see a bit of a vulture flying over in this picture.  I don’t know if that bird is what inspired the eagle to take off and give chase, but it was amazing to watch them swoop, and reverse direction at top speed.  They disappeared behind the trees, and the eagle was still in pursuit when they reappeared.  I tried to catch the chase in pictures but it was impossible.  1-24nesteagle21-24nesteagle31-24nesteagle4 copyWhen she returned she landed on the nest.  She was still scanning the sky, but also looking down into the nest, at her chick maybe?  While she was gone I concentrated on looking at the nest in case I might spot a little head pop up to look for Mom, but that didn’t happen.  1-24nesteagle51-24nesteagle6Her mate did come back, I saw him flying in and zoomed onto the nest thinking that he’d land there, but I was surprised to see Mom take off and both of the eagles were now in pursuit of at least two vultures.  Again, amazing to see but not so easy to photograph.  When I left there was one eagle on the nest and one in the trees nearby.     Keeping watch, defending the nest.

birds, eagles, Florida wildlife, nature, nesting, perseverance, photography

Oh say can you see…

I heard about a new eagle nest yesterday so I decided to check it out today.  Once I found it I liked the round shape, it looked different from the other nest I visit.  But it was a lot farther off in the distance, and I knew my photos would be disappointing.  But I didn’t have to wait too long for some eagle action though.  This eagle flew in and delivered some lunch, perched for just a few minutes, and was off again.  I decided to head to the other nest, which wasn’t too far away.1-19newnest copyI was far enough south, I just had to head due west to the other nest.  I was rewarded by being able to get a couple of photos in before this eagle hunkered down on the nest.  I usually can’t resist taking a lot of pictures of the nest with only an eagle head showing, and then they aren’t really usable pictures.  But I resisted doing that, so it seemed like I was just standing there doing nothing for quite a while.  I watched cars stop and take pictures out the window, and a truck pass a school bus and nearly drive it off the road.  There is a lot of traffic on that road and I don’t think it was designed for it.  People honk and wave, I get tired of squinting into the camera.1-19oldnest1 copyThere always seem to be vultures circling overhead, and until now I’ve had to stare at them to try to decide if they are eagles.  But when it really is an eagle he makes a bee-line for the nest, no soaring for him.  And when I see one flying I usually focus on the nest to catch him as he lands, but so far that hadn’t happened.  I saw this one flying in, and when he didn’t show up on the nest I looked and spotted him nearby.  He posed a bit and flew off again without landing on the nest.1-19eagleposeAgain I saw him flying, and again I focused on the nest… and, you guessed it.  He landed a lot farther away, and I considered walking down to get better photos of him, but then I wouldn’t have a shot of the nest, so I stood my ground.1-19secondpose copy

I had been there standing at the side of the road for quite a while by then.  I was tempted to leave, but the longer I was there it seemed to me that it he’d be back soon, possibly as I walked back to the car.  So I stayed, and it paid off.  He must have been a hero when he landed with his prize.  Mom didn’t stick around to enjoy it though, she was off to spread her wings…

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eagles, Florida wildlife, Hudson Beach, nature, nesting, photography, sunset

Hudson Beach plus eagles…

I got off work at 11 AM, walked the dogs, investigated the crane noises out back and took lots of pictures, and then thought, what next?  Well, I said to myself, you haven’t checked on the eagles lately.  So off I went.

I arrived a little after 4 PM, and found Mom, or Dad, on the nest, and I hoped that they would switch off soon.  In no time I saw the other eagle fly into the area and I zoomed in on the nest in anticipation of him landing there.  And I waited, and waited.  Even the on-duty parent got tired of waiting and started yelling.  Then she/he flew off the nest.  And still I waited, focused on the nest, hoping a chick would pop it’s head up.  That didn’t happen, but I swear I heard peeping, but can’t say that it came from the nest.  Eventually, not too long really, parent #2 landed on the nest and started tending something, a baby?  Just general housekeeping?  I decided that this was Mom because she apparently decided that a small branch above the nest had to go, and she spent quite a while working on accomplishing that.  1-16calling copy1-16momtakesover copy1-16momtakesover2 copy1-16momtakesover3 copy1-16momtakesover4 copyAnd again, I thought what next?  Sunset wasn’t for over an hour at that point, so I decided to go to Hudson Beach for the sunset, killing some time and putting me a lot closer to home.  I put the new wide-angle lens on for the sunset pictures.  Practice, practice, practice, yet again.1-16hudsonsunset copy.jpgAnd from the iPhone, one more…1-16hudsonsunset2.jpg