Looking out of the window of my hotel in Minato, there was a pond behind the building. It took a while to work out what it was but, on the weekend, it was easier to see. This is a fishing pond. It is in between all of the hotels and, even on a hot and steamy day, there were plenty of people fishing. I don’t know what the pond was stocked with and what the rules are once you catch something but I was more taken that this existed at all.
One evening, while having dinner near the beach, we saw a flash of wings as a bird flew down to the water’s edge and landed. It was a heron. He was standing on the rocks as the waves washed in. Every once in a while, he would catch a fish and then walk away from the water before dealing with his meal. We talked to the staff about him and they told us he was a regular feature every evening. They had even named him Roger. Each night we came by to see if Roger was there and, sure enough, there he was. Same spot each time, just standing and waiting for dinner to come to him. On our first night he was joined by a manta ray that came in very close inshore but, sadly, he never showed up again while I was there with a camera. Roger was far more reliable though.
At the end of Baker Beach there are some rocks. One guy had set himself up here to do a bit of fishing. He knew exactly where the waves would crash over and where they would miss – unlike some of the other people clambering across the rocks. The image of him alone with the sea seemed rather compelling to me – certainly more so than the view in the opposite direction of a naked guy on the beach applying sunblock!
They were hunting – not me! I was hunting too but it was a plane I was after. However, since there was time before the plane arrived, I was able to watch a pair of egrets busily feeding. They are hungry birds! They didn’t always catch something but their success rate was high and then it was straight back to the next fish.
Watching them stalk through the shallows and then strike at their target was a lot of fun. The speed of the entry is impressive and then to see the fish in their mouth before it is swallowed is a sign of a job well done. With the water so calm, they also made for some very symmetrical shots.
It has been a couple of years since I last made a trip out to the Mississippi to take pictures of the bald eagles that fish out there. Last winter it was pretty warm and my schedule was a bit busy. Warm weather means the river doesn’t freeze up and the birds can fish anywhere they like. When it gets cold, the ice means fishing is harder to do and they tend to gather at the dams along the river since they will usually have some open water just downstream.
This winter hasn’t been consistently cold either but it has been a while and I don’t know whether I will still be here next year so, with a good looking weather forecast, I decided to go. I was not alone in this with the number of people at Lock and Dam 14 in Iowa far larger than I have ever seen before. Combined with the relatively open river, this meant the people were healthily outnumbering the eagles.
However, there were a few birds in the air at various times. Sadly, with a lot of open water, they could choose where to fish. Also, the wind was coming from across the river so they tended to make their fishing runs away from us. Consequently, there were lots of eagle butt shots to be had but not many front views. Even so, I was with some friends so it was a good day to be out and there were a few shots that made the trip a success, even if I didn’t get anything as good as I have managed in previous years.