Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Photos taken with 120-400mm Sigma Tele

So, there I was flying down the lake without a care in the world.  The sun was trying to break through the gloom of morning.  The boat was in thirty feet of water for the past mile.  I glanced onto the GPS/depth screen and suddenly wished I had a heart defibrillator. .
Your reading it right if you see 2 feet of depth on the screen.  Great Scott!  This change took place over about ten seconds.  Look at the little pointer.  I'm in the middle of the lake for heavens sake!  What a mud hole!  Below is what it looked like on the left and right side of the boat.  

The shoreline both sides is miles away.  Its hard to believe I'm in the center of this body of water with two feet of water under the boat.  The place is a public nuisance and should have signs surrounding it "Death trap when drawn down - enter at your own risk."   I don't remember encountering this situation last year or I would have programmed the GPS for it.  Oh well - live and learn.  Key word is (live).

I'm going to bore you with more eagles today.  I ran into a pair of unique birds as I cruised along the shoreline this morning.  I counted 13 bald eagles on this stretch of water altogether but, one of them was sort of special.

This adult was the first eagle I saw for the morning.  He was no more than ten minutes away from the boat ramp.

The above pictures are of a mallard duck.  I sort of liked the second shot of him blasting away off the water.  Without his wings extended it looks as if he simply jumped into the air.  

Look carefully at the shot below.  It shows an eagle landing on a limb but, look directly below him and you'll see that the limb is already occupied.  The shot was taken into the sun and through tree limbs which compounds the difficulty of focusing, not to mention almost impossible light meter function.  Wildlife are rarely in positions that are conducive to great pictures.

The following photo of the immature bald eagle that just landed on a limb was the start of a conflict that was most interesting to watch.  I could not photograph the fight that took place between this immature and another  because it took place primarily in and among the trees disallowing any possibility of focusing on them with the camera.  The principle player landed on the tree limb as shown below.

Notice that he is looking up toward the sky.  He is watching another immature bald eagle flying at tree top level.

The eagle on the limb let out a high pitched shriek and launched himself out of the tree and made a loop upward that put him on a course to intercept the eagle above him.  
The wind was up and the waves were rocking my boat (no pun intended) and it was terribly difficult to operate that big lens I was using.  I had shut down the engine to be rid of vibration but the waves were perpetuating the back and forth rock that was sure to overcome the image stabilization of the lens.  The eagles almost clashed together.  I missed the shot but got a picture of them as they both regained their flight composure after their near collision.  Look at their heads.  They are watching each other intently.
Then it was a cat and mouse game.  One eagle chased the other through the trees.  This is where I could only get a shot once in awhile.  These creatures are huge and I am totally blown away at their ability to cut through the tight, thick foliage of these trees.  It was amazing to watch.  These two were very serious about this little ruckus.  The immature that left the limb was still shrieking.

The eagle above was the one carrying the confrontation to the other.

They flew through the trees at top speed totally ignoring my presence.  The eagle above appeared to be trying to break off this meeting.

This entire little escapade lasted only about half a minute.  You can imagine me on that tossing boat trying to get shots of this whole affair.  I cursed the wind and then started cursing the waves on the water all the while shuffling along the deck while staying close to the boat's tower for security.

In the shot above - that eagle is flying light speed through the tightest places!  He's amazing.  He is so folded up he doesn't even resemble a bird.  He's a canon ball of speed!
As I said - the struggle for domination didn't last long but, it was breath taking to watch.  A bald eagle professional explained to me that these fights rarely draw blood and they are usually territorial spats that are designed to clearly delineate territorial lines.  I apologize if the pictures aren't the best but I had to capture the moment.  It was tough shooting.  The chase through the trees was amazing and only lasted a moment but it was a steeple chase.  Whew!  They both eventually broke through the tree tops and were apparently satisfied that all was well as each went his separate ways.

I know the pictures don't show it but, these birds are Goliath's in the sky.  They are enormous, powerful and masters of their domain.  I wish you all could have the opportunity to see them - wild and free. 
And so - that's my morning.  Grim and boring, I know.  There's nothing to be done about it.  

I'm off tonight to see the movie "SkyFall".  I need to leave reality for a couple hours.  Sure wish I could eat pop corn.  I'll dig up some more diversity for ya tomorrow.  Thanks for your interest.