May 30, 2014 Belfair State Park, Washington

A small gathering of eagles
A small gathering of eagles

Big Beef Creek for More Eagles

Once again I drove the 35 miles back up to Big Beef Creek in Seabeck from my campsite at Belfair State Park in Belfair. For those of you getting tired of bald eagle shots, I only have three days left doing this and then I am off farther west to Potlatch State park.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Great blue heron coming in for a landing
Great blue heron coming in for a landing

Started off this morning shooting the great blue herons as they arrived on scene to fish for sculpin. About two or three hours before low tide, they usually come flying in and concentrate near the bridge, fairly close to shore, and the road.

Great blue heron landing
Great blue heron landing
Great blue heron landing
Great blue heron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great blue heron with sculpin
Great blue heron with sculpin

Great blue heron with sculpin
Great blue heron with sculpin

This morning they were having quite a bit of success with the sculpin.

Fishing is good this morning
Fishing is good this morning

As the tide retreats, the herons go with it out to the oyster beds  a few hundred feet from the road.

Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle dive
Bald eagle dive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is usually the time the eagles arrive to start stealing and fishing, maybe an hour or hour and a half before low tide. They soar over the scene searching for herons with fish, then swoop down and scare the heron off it’s catch.

Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle fishing
Bald eagle swooping in
Bald eagle landing in the oyster bed
Bald eagle landing
Bald eagle landing in the oyster bed
Bald eagle landing

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the tide continues to recede the eagles often will land on the oyster beds and search for sculpin trapped among the oysters by the falling tide, easy pickings, even easier than stealing from the herons.

Bald eagle with sculpin
Bald eagle with sculpin
Bald eagle with sculpin
Bald eagle with sculpin
Escort for an attacking eagle
Escort for an attacking eagle

The eagles also do their own fishing, this one above was diving for a fish with a crow flying escort, most likely hoping to grab a morsel if the eagle was successful. He followed close on the eagle’s tail for a whole sequence of shots, though I didn’t see it rewarded with any scraps.

Escort for an attacking eagle
Escort for an attacking eagle
Bald eagle descent
Bald eagle descent

More soaring eagles.

Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight
Subadult bald eagle
Subadult bald eagle

Bald eagles reach maturity at four to five years, this is when they are seen with their distinctive white head and tail feathers. Until then, you see them in varying feather tones. I liked this ones outlined tail feathers.

Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight

A couple of closeups from today’s shoot.

Bald eagle in flight closeup
Bald eagle in flight closeup

As the tide goes out, I usually wander down to the beach and walk a little ways out from shore, trying to position myself directly under the flight path the eagles use to return to the tall trees along the shore where they perch to eat their catch. Often they come quite close as they come and go from their perches.

Quite neat when you actually hear their wing flap as they pass overhead.

Bald eagle landing in the oyster bed
Bald eagle landing
Bald eagle landing in the oyster bed
Bald eagle landing
Great blue heron liftoff
Great blue heron liftoff

 

 

 

 

Great blue heron liftoff
Great blue heron liftoff