Another Great Day for Bald Eagles
My schedule today cleared by Winegard’s inability to ship parts for my Clear Creek RV service appointment, I took Jim Palmer up on his suggestion to venture down to Woughop Lake southwest of Tacoma for wood duck shots. Jim had told me the best time to be there was around 8 AM so for the first time in a long, long while, I joined the morning commuter traffic, something I normally religiously avoid. Though certainly not a pleasant experience, the traffic heading in to work around Tacoma wasn’t quite as bad as I had feared, highway traffic only slowed to a crawl twice and never came to a complete stop, so I made the trip in a little less than an hour, and when I showed up, I instantly spotted Jim on the far shore of the small lake, actually more like a small pond.
To make a long story short, we got skunked! Not even a sighting of a wood duck. That’s just the way it goes sometimes, certainly not the first time a road trip for a certain species has ended in failure. Around eleven, we decided to call it quits and return to Seabeck to catch the eagles return with the afternoon low tide.
I again chose to wander down the beach at Big Beef Creek a bit, as I had yesterday, and once again, the action was nothing short of terrific. Most of the shots in this post were taken from the beach just past the house in the top photo where the eagles would perch in the tall trees to watch for fish being taken by the great blue herons or other eagles.
As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.
The action of the eagles flying overhead to their perches in the tall trees behind me and then swooping down to attack was so intense that at one point, I actually had to duck when two eagles were coming in low, squabbling over one’s catch as it tried to make it’s retreat to the trees behind me to dine in peace.
I never saw any eagles get seriously injured in any way while I was here, but they certainly get a little rough with each other, as in the image above where the juvenile eagle was dragged a ways over the sharp oyster shells, but still flew away with no apparent damage.
Midair collisions and attacks seldom seemed to even loosen feathers.
For more than 2 hours, there was pretty much constant action as the eagles flew from the trees behind me every time they saw an opportunity to catch, or more likely, steal a fish, and then beat a rapid retreat back to those same trees, trying to defend their catch from other eagles.
This is a well known spot for photographing eagles, as the shot above shows. Some days there are also six to ten photographers around me down on the beach from where I took this image.
I spent a lot of time today trying to get ” Liftoff ” shots of the eagles as they took flight from the tops of the trees along the water’s edge. It requires a lot of patience as you never know how long they will be content to just sit and stare, but if you let your camera off them for just a split second, and they dive into action, you miss it every time, they simply move so fast. Yet often they will remain perched for ten or fifteen minutes without leaving their perch and it is difficult to keep your eye in the viewfinder that long without losing concentration. But I did manage to luck out and get a few decent shots!