June 1, 2014 Belfair State Park, Washington

Bald eagle getting close
Bald eagle getting close

Yet Another Five Star Day

While planning this trip to Washington, I prepared myself mentally to being forced to spend many days cooped up in the motorhome waiting out the rainy weather this region is known for. Funny thing is, it just hasn’t happened. Today is yet another blue sky 70 degree day. What have I done to deserve this?

Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight

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

Juvenile bald eagle harassing great blue herons
Juvenile bald eagle
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight

See, I’m not kidding, blue sky everywhere you look, probably one of the nicest stretches of weather I have ever experienced, anywhere.

Great blue heron liftoff
Great blue heron
Great blue heron liftoff
Great blue heron

A couple of shots of the great blue herons as they arrived on schedule

Bald eagle and heron
Another futile protest

and yet another protesting heron surrenders his catch.

Bald eagle attack mode
Bald eagle attack mode

After a while observing these guys, you can tell by the way they leave their perch and by the look in their eyes, if they have locked onto someone catching a fish, or if they are just taking off on a scouting run. This guy has spotted someone with a fish!

Bald eagle attack glide
Bald eagle attack glide
Bald eagle attack glide
Bald eagle attack glide

The two shots above show an eagle gliding down to the water about to pluck an unknowing fish from the bay. I would love to have that great shot just as he is plucking the fish from the water, but the one imperfect aspect of the great weather is that the wind is always from the north and the eagles always turn into the wind as they snag their prey, or as they land on the oyster beds. And since I face north taking these shots from the beach, while I can get some nice pre-catch glide shots, when they actually grab the fish, I am always only getting yet another ” bird butt ” shot. I need a southerly breeze, but the only time the wind turns around and comes from that direction is when it is bringing in bad weather.

Attack coming from above
Attack coming from above
Eagle defending his catch
Defending his catch

After almost two weeks of shooting eagles, I still don’t have any great battle shots, like the one above, only a higher quality shot. There really haven’t been that many opportunities to get this type of shot, the only good scrapes I have witnessed have occurred at too great a distance, and there really haven’t even been all that many of them. With only one more day to go, I just might be running out of time.

A gathering of eagles
A gathering of eagles

This last shot is a composite of several photos taken today to show how concentrated this gathering of eagles at Big Beef Creek is getting. The number of shots was dictated by the very narrow depth of field of the 600mm lens that I had to use since these guys were a long way off. I focused each shot on a different eagle, or group of eagles, to get them all somewhat in focus in the combined final image.

Yesterday I could count over 50 eagles within eye site of my position, today, probably ” only ” 40. The locals tell me the month of June is always better than the two weeks I have been here, and with the eagle count rising rapidly the last two days, I would have to say they are probably right.

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