Tuesday, June 25, 2013

EAGLES AND STORMS

I have been plagued by overcast days this entire week.  If the light would have been a little bit brighter I could have taken the finest action eagle pictures I have ever taken.
That's hard rain coming over that mountain you see right of center in the shot above.  The wind picked up dramatically and shards of lightning were piercing the air vertically.  That's the up river view.  Below is another storm following the Holston River upstream coming behind me.
These are pop-up storms and they can be severe.  Gotta be careful.  I'll watch both of these little storms closely, especially when lightning is a factor.  The thunder is fairly constant.  Both of these cells appear to be moving very slowly up and down the river so I'll continue on with my tasks.  Rain doesn't bother me at all, but lightning is nothing to fool around with especially when I have an aluminum tower sticking up over my head on the boat.  I just hope if the boat is hit with lightning that it's a direct strike cause I can't afford any hospital stays.
This area I'm in is beaver city.  Those holes you see in the river bank lead to beaver lofts located about twelve feet back in the bank.  The center hole is where I photographed the baby beavers a few weeks ago.
Below is one of the river bank residents.  I photographed him a couple weeks ago also.  I'll just put a few interesting shots of him on here tonight as I gave him a lot of coverage on a previous entry.



I could watch raccoon's for hours.  They are the most curious rascals you ever saw.  This little fella has a particular route that he patrols daily.  He was in the exact same spot last time I saw him.

I drove past Eagle Mountain (my name) and one of the immature bald eagles' was on his tall, dead snag of a tree high up on the mountain.  I didn't photograph him due to the horrible lighting situation.  This is a very overcast afternoon and it's useless to try to photograph him from this rocking boat.  I kept on going without a shot.  I continued down the river and when I looked to my right where the river grass covers the water in acres, I saw an adult bald eagle with his offspring.  Wow!  I've never seen a mother or father out with their offspring - ever!  The adults will drive off the young eventually.  There must be some hunting education going on here.  This is the second immature as I just past by the first one in the snag tree ten minutes ago.  This is where I got really frustrated with available light.  I had to photograph these eagle moments.  I killed the engine and used the electric motor for all boat navigation.  The water was only two feet deep and the engine should be shut down anyway.

I got down on my knees on the floor of the boat and laid the back of my hand on the seat with the camera in my palm.  It's the best I could do.  Look at that - it's as though dad is having a conversation with his son about life.


What a sight.  What a privilege to be able to view these noble creatures!

Here is where I experienced maximum frustration over the low light conditions.  The eagles were setting up to lift off and I normally would have the shutter speeds at a minimum 1/1000th of a second or the preferred setting of 1/1500th of a second, minimum.  Instead I'm at 1/100th of a second.  I have no chance to stop action with those slow speeds.  I may be able to pull of a shot or two but the wings move too fast to stop them  at such a slow shutter speed.  See below:
Dad took off and I got only a fair shot of him as he lifted his wings for the initial power thrust.  After that - the shots are mediocre at best.

The pictures are still treasures to me, but I do like to post the best shots I can on the site.  There will be another time.


Junior watched his dad fly away and didn't take his eyes off him until he landed.  Then Junior took off.

I got his launch into the air, but the shots were blurred.  Now - look at the next four shots carefully.  You will see a tiny bird land on the back of this bald eagle.  He stayed there for at least 20 seconds for the free ride.  He lifted off the eagle's back and landed again and rode between the shoulders of this great bird for another twenty seconds.  If the light was brighter I would have had crystal clear shots of the whole episode, but I could only capture what I did.  Still, it's an amazing few pictures.
Above:  The little bird approaches the eagle.
Above:  He has landed on the eagle's back and will ride there for a good twenty seconds.  Then he lifts off.
Above:  He is on his way back down to land on the eagle's back.  He stayed there for another 20 seconds and lifted off once again.  The pictures were too blurred to use.  Sorry.
And, he was off to join dad who was waiting for him on a huge chunk of wood embedded in the river bottom.





These pictures are sort of emotional.  Here can be seen a father with his son, training him in the skills that will allow him to succeed.  I've never seen eagles participate in this type of venture before, and I've seen a lot of bald eagles.  These shots are of particular value to me.


Then, dad lifted off and I was once again reminded about the insufficient light.
I normally would have ten to twelve shots of this lift off but - you know the story.  Juniors turn was next.  The lift off shots were blurred.  I didn't post any.


I watched junior's head and he never took his eyes off his dad.  Not once until dad landed.  Then he lifted off and flew directly to his dad.
You can tell by his posture that he is going to make the leap into space.  He did and the images, as usual, were blurred.  I left the eagles in peace and headed for the boat ramp.  At least I got some fair shots of father and son today.  I'll be back.