Air, and a little Water, Day

While my schedule was a little odd, I did get the chance to go out for a short while in recognition of Earth Day, so back to the lake it was. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed when, after reminding all my readers of the holiday and talking so recently about the species that could be found down there, Jordan Lake was remarkably quiet. It’s like I’m not reaching anyone somehow…

Still, I found a handful of things to photograph, and got some outdoor time and fresh air that notably wasn’t laden with some wicked allergen that hit me right in the back of the throat (unlike all day yesterday,) so I’m good. Still trying to be better of course, but right now I’m not complaining, and that’s remarkable enough on its own.

While a handful of herons and a red-tailed hawk made an appearance, we’ll just stick with the bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) for now; either their numbers have exploded at the lake recently, or they’ve moved from an area that I was unaware of to my most-frequented haunt. It takes almost no effort anymore.

adult and juvenile bald eagles Haliaeetus leucocephalus wheeling together
High overhead, an adult and a juvenile wheeled together, almost appearing to be courting, which may be possible (I suspect they reach sexual maturity before their fourth year when they achieve the white head and tail of the adult,) or it may have been a parent and offspring, though I doubt this year’s because of the coloration – it looks like 2nd or 3rd year for the juvie, to me. There was no further behavior to support either idea, however, and eventually they separated a bit and disappeared from view.

Then it was quiet, but after a while I spotted one in the distance coming closer, and I switched position on the chance that it might do some fishing in my view. The sun was high and bright, not ideal for shooting up into the sky, but as the eagle started banking around I got a couple of decent angles.

adult bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus in slight bank
This one was ‘stepping’ lower, slight swoops and pullouts, no actual diving, more like false starts, but it steadily dropped lower.

adult bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus lowering its feet
As the feet started to extend from their tucked position, I knew it was spotting potential prey, even though it maintained the indecisive descent. I wasn’t about to look away now.

adult bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus in shallow stoop
Yep, it’s got its eye on something, and I silently cheered it on.

adult bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus just before snatching fish from water
Annnddd the focus twitched away again, inexplicably. I’m going to spend the day tomorrow hashing out just what the hell it seems to be doing, and/or trying to prevent it. But this is what I got today, and the action is clear at least.

adult bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus, snagging fish and heading out
Gracefully, it snatched its prey from the water and started climbing back out, very shallowly. This is cropped significantly, and in the viewfinder I wasn’t completely sure that it had caught one or not, but since the eagle headed straight off without climbing much or wheeling back, it seemed likely to me.

I’ll be back to make more attempts, and video is in the works – I’ll have to determine if a tripod is necessary or a shoulder-rig will be sufficient, but shooting freehand (like these still photos) would only induce seasickness. We’ll see what happens, hopefully soon.