Thursday, November 22, 2012


He was contrasted against the deep blue sky, soaring high and free.  He is magnificent!

I'm going to back off posting eagle shots on the blog for awhile unless I can get an unusually great photo.  I think everyone is getting eagled out.  This was Thanksgiving day and I packed up Happy and took the boat to the lower lake to survey bald eagles on that end of the lake.  So far I've only counted them on the middle lake.  The lower lake areas are heavily populated by humans and the habitat offerings for eagles is very diminished.  I anticipated a wasted effort but, at least I'd be on the water enjoying a warm, sunny Winter's day.  I was mistaken on the "wasted day" idea.   I had driven down the lake for an hour without seeing one eagle.  Then, all of a sudden one after another appeared.  They were hanging out along a piece of shoreline that hadn't been sold yet and was free of houses, people and the noise they bring with them.  The trees are thick and tall in this area.
Fireworks don't go off and sirens don't sound when an eagle is discovered.  It is usually seen lounging on a limb that is right over the edge of the water.  There's no fan fare involved.  There is no mistaking the species for even at great distance they are regal and noble.  And as usual they are on the side of the lake with the sun to their backs.  

This eagle has almost totally changed into his adult plumage.  I'd guess his age to be 4.5 years.  He is definitely a visitor.  I would certainly remember this eagle if I'd have seen him through the Summer due to his coloring.  He is old enough and of an age where he just may find a mate and become a permanent resident to the lake.

It's difficult to select a good shutter speed that delivers satisfactory results due to the back light situation.  When the bird is high in the tree and back lighted - a fast shutter speed is required but, when he launches and falls into the trees away from the skyline - the previous faster shutter speed has to be adjusted slower to compensate for the low light situation caused by the shade of the tree limbs.  Tough situations.

I cruised past what I thought was a pile of leaves in the top of a tree.  The binoculars proved my error in judgement.  I turned left and went back.  It is a red tail hawk.  He was sleeping but was awakened by the returning and lingering engine sounds below him.

That was a nice treat for the day.  I haven't had the opportunity to photograph a red tail ever.  He's a beauty!

The next eagle had an odd appearance to him.  As I got closer I noticed what appeared to be black lines all over his white head.  I enlarged his photo to extremes to get a better view of this anomaly.
Look carefully at his head.  The only thing I can think of that would cause the lines would be the sun shining through the tree limbs casting a shadow onto his white head.  The only thing is that when he rotated his head - the lines didn't move.  I hope he's alright.
So, I guess the lower lake does have a population of bald eagles.  I'm really surprised at this.  Of course, if they are transient eagles, they won't be familiar with this mud hole and will migrate to the upper end of the lake at some point where the habitat is more substantial.

An immature glided over us.  He appeared out of nowhere.  I don't care how many eagles I see - I look at them in awe and wish I could do that.  Notice the white head and the white flecks on this eagle's wings.  His tail hasn't changed to white yet.  He's a 4 year old bird and soon will molt into his adult plumage.  There are a lot of these older immature birds on Douglas it seems.
Happy needed some shore time and I drifted over to a good landing place and spent twenty minutes walking around on a shoreline covered with flat slate like rock and dried mud.  All that brown you see should be covered with water.  This is a sorry excuse for a lake!
 Look at Happy waiting for me.

I'll be involved in a elk survey on the 26th of this month over West of here.  We'll be using binoculars and photo imaging cameras at night to find the elk.  I'm taking my camera along just in case elk are spotted during the daylight hours.  The heavy, long 500mm lens will be replaced with a much lighter Canon 300mm telephoto for that effort.  So, that's Thanksgiving day for me.  I'm off tomorrow but I may just go to the lake in the morning with the bay boat and put a shift in.  I love my job.  See ya later.