Morning Photography With Eagles

I had another beautiful morning of photography with the eagles of Eleven Mile Canyon. I wasn’t going to go today, but sometime during the night there was an internet outage which was continuing to persist after sunrise. Faced with a morning of boredom, I reconsidered my options and decided to while away a few hours with the bald eagles.

The first success in my morning with eagles

As I cruised past the nest I spotted one of the nesting pair standing guard over the nest from her perch. She likes to watch from a large branch a few yards behind the nest. The branch is too far away for pictures but I took it as a good omen that her mate would be found on a branch upstream. The hunch turned out to be correct and I spotted him on a branch just before the big bend.

An eagle reunion

morning photography with eagles

After a while, I noticed that the eagle was becoming agitated so I got ready for the launch. However instead of flying, he began to act strangely. I watched as he twisted his head, while opening his beak and flapping his wings. I made sure to capture that action, at the risk that my camera buffer would be half full for the takeoff. Then I noticed the reason for his odd behavior. His mate had flown in and was circling overhead. As she neared, he spread his wings and leaped off the branch to join her. That burst of activity turned out to be my best sequence of the day. I had other chances as I will mention, but I was fiddling around with settings both times when the takeoff occurred, and I almost missed them completely.

Two More Chances

Bald Eagles at Eleven Mile Canyon

The nesting pair flew downstream, but I don’t like just chasing them around so I continued on upstream in hopes of finding the pair that live up by the dam. Sure enough, Speckles was on a branch closer to his nesting grounds. He was perched on a pretty nice branch, but I noticed that with my usual shutter speed and aperture of a 3200th at f/8, the ISO that early in the morning was at 6400. So I decided dial down the shutter speed a bit to get a lower ISO, and of course that’s when he decided to fly. Despite having a shutter speed of only an 800th of a second, I still managed to get some fairly nice captures.

I didn’t fare as well at the last sighting. The ISO was even worse so after taking a few portraits at a 1600th, I dared to dial back to a 320th of a second. And naturally, Speckles saw me do that and took it as his cue to take flight. At a 320th of a second I got nothing usable at all after he left the branch.

Maybe Tomorrow

Tomorrow I have to run into town for supplies so perhaps I’ll have time for another couple of trips up and down the stream!

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