Bald Eagles and the Spring Thaw

The ice continues to clear on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon. Just a few weeks ago we were commenting on how much of the river was frozen solid and now most of the river is open and running fast. Mama eagle is still sitting on eggs at the canyon entrance and hopefully we’ll have eaglets to watch in a couple weeks!

Herd of Mule Deer

Unfortunately I didn’t see any eagles in the usual locations despite cruising up and down the canyon three times. I was fortunate however to spot a nice herd of mule deer does and a few American dippers. Eventually I gave up and was on my way out of the canyon for the final time when I spotted one of our nesting pair watching over the river about a half mile in, at the wide point in the clearing just before the whitewater just south of the old dam structure.

American Dippers in the South Platte

I sat and watched him or over an hour while I took pictures of his antics and waited for him to fly. I also shot some video but somehow managed to delete it 🙁 I thought I had learned not to format the memory chip until after I was sure I had what I needed from it and had backed it up, but apparently that is not the case 🙁

Eventually, when my arms and hands were exhausted from holding up the camera and long lens, the eagle finally decided to fly. And of course by then my hands were so cramped that I failed to hold down the back AF button and failed to keep a focus lock on the great raptor as he flew right at me in a perfect photo op. Shots I did get as the bird launched from the tree were good, but the background of tangled branches was quite hideous and there is nothing I can do to make it look better.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

I did get one with the sky as the background but unfortunately there are no catch lights in the eyes, ruining the image as far as I’m concerned. Without seeing the fierce life in the eyes of the winged predator the image is a failure.

Today snow is falling furiously and I won’t be getting out on the roads for another attempt. Anyway, we have discovered that eagles don’t like bad weather and will most likely be riding out the storm in the shelter of their nests.

The good news is that our beloved osprey could be arriving any day now! The literature says that they can be expected anywhere from the middle to the end of the month. Last spring the first of our pair arrived on March 31st with his partner arriving the next day. Of course it’s possible that they arrived together and I just didn’t see them both. I’ve never gotten a firm answer on whether or not they travel together or just meet at their chosen breeding location.

Sorry about the video, but I hope you enjoy the few pictures I was able to capture!

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

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Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

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