My Skagit trip was primarily looking for geese, but I was also going to see whether the short-eared owls were back out and about. I ended up in East 90 again which has a solid reputation for the owls. As I pulled up, various other raptors were flying very close by, so I knew the chances of seeing stuff were going to be good. Unfortunately, the owls were not playing ball. There were loads of them flying but they seemed to have staked out their interests further across the fields and away from the road. The northern harriers were the ones close by. The owls seemed to be wheeling about each other off in the distance so I had to make do with longer range images of them and get some of the other residents instead.
My visit to Cattle Point in search of foxes had me trekking along the cliff tops hoping to spot some creatures on the prowl. I met a local couple that suggested they normally saw foxes further along the coast and so I headed that way. As I kept moving, I did get some wildlife encounters but it was with bald eagles rather than foxes. They were soaring along the cliff tops using the updrafts. At one point, one popped up over the edge close to me and stared at me briefly before gliding on. I was too slow to pick up the camera and instead watched it fly by. I did catch some of its compatriots later in my walk, though. If I’m not getting foxes, eagles are okay but I can get them at home!
I spent the Friday of Seafair down at the shore of Lake Washington watching the flying demonstrations (and taking the occasional work call). The planes weren’t the only aviators over the lake though. Despite a TFR being in place, a local osprey decided to ignore it and cruise along the shore line. I never saw it actually dive after any prey for the whole time I was there. Instead it would just start towards the south end and gradually drift northwards. After it had completed the leg, it would return to the start and repeat the process.
Fortunately, it was very close to the shore and nowhere near the display box so there was no risk being posed to the performers in the show. However, it was quite a distraction to everyone around where I was and we would turn to watch it rather than the display aircraft each time it came through. Initially it was a little offshore and a bit of a reach with the long lens but it came progressively closer in and was right overhead on a number of occasions.
There is a log in the water in Juanita Bay that is just above the surface. It provides a good spot for the eagles to land when they want a drink and need to clean themselves. It is a bit far from the viewing platforms but you still get a good look at them as they rest and sort themselves out. Watching wildlife do things like this seems perfectly normal but, I think law enforcement might be involved if it were humans!
There is a resident pair of bald eagles in Juanita Bay. Originally, I had got some shots of the two of them which were going to be the basis for this post. Since then, I have seen them a bunch of times. They have been flying around together, swooping across the bay and hanging out on the osprey perch to either eat their food or watch for the next meal. I figured I could just share a bunch of photos of them either together or individually. Enjoy…
I never fail to be amazed at the crap that large birds of prey take from smaller birds. The eagles fly around here with crows and other birds swooping in at them and trying to drive them away. The strangest part is that the eagles barely do anything about it. I have seen how agile an eagle can be in flight and a rapid turn to point some talons at an incoming crow is well within their capability but they just don’t bother. I was down south of Seattle recently and heard the familiar call of a bald eagle (not as cool as you might think). It was sitting on a tree top. Crows were coming in to hassle it regularly and it barely flinched. I shot a small video clip to show the crows working as a pair and that is included below.
We had a day out on Whidbey Island and we stopped off at Fort Casey to eat our lunch. We parked up near the lighthouse and there was a bald eagle hanging around along the cliff tops. The updrafts made soaring around a piece of cake for it. It landed in the top of a tree near us as we walked along the cliff. When we turned around and headed down the slope towards the fort, it started flying high above us and then appeared to swoop down into the bushes – presumably to catch a snack. We lost track of it at that point but a short while later it emerged from the bushes flying just above head height and straight towards us. I had the camera on the wrong settings to maximize my chance of getting a good shot but I still managed to get a few slightly blurry ones as it buzzed by.
A trip to Log Boom Park in Kenmore is usually because I am after floatplanes. However, it is a great source of wildlife and some of the ospreys in the vicinity were keen to be photographed. You get plenty of ospreys and eagles in the area but they are usually fishing a bit further out into Lake Washington and not so close to the shore. However, a few of them were circling right overhead and even looking at some fishing opportunities in around the jetty. It would be rude to not try and get some shots of them!
I might have been visiting Mare Island to see the museum and surrounding area but I also got to fit in some wildlife viewing while I was there. I had stepped out of the back of the museum towards one of the dry docks. One of the guys working in a business nearby starting chatting and saying how he wished he had a long lens with him to photograph the ospreys. I could hear a lot of noise but he pointed out the source. All of the high structures around the docks be they cranes or gantries seemed to have a nest on them. Ospreys were all over the place. They had access to the fishing in the water a short distance away so the metalwork was providing a great vantage point with plenty of privacy.
The noise from the nest close to me was pretty loud. A chick was obviously awaiting some food. At first I thought the parents were going to come right in but then I realized that there were so many nests that the birds I could see flying were not necessarily anything to do with this chick. I don’t know whether it had worked that out, though, given the noise it was making when any bird came close. I have no idea how much the nest impact the operation of the machinery and whether there are any restrictions on what can be done when they are in place but they are clearly all over the place.