Woodland Park Zoo has a pair of Stellar Sea Eagles in an enclosure. The Sea Eagle is a big bird. This pair were pretty active as well. They were making a lot of noise and flapping around the enclosure not stopping at any one spot for long. It made for a fun time trying to get some shots of them. Shooting through the enclosure is a bit tricky but, being close enough to it allowed everything to blur out and the shots worked out pretty well. They are an intense looking creature.
The Growlers weren’t the only things flying at Coupeville while I was there. A bunch of bald eagles were also flying in the vicinity. They were crossing the approach path for the FCLP training which had me a little concerned. I thought they would get lost when the jets showed up but they clearly weren’t very concerned and were used the the jets. They might have got close but they seemed to stay just far enough away to avoid any conflict. A bird strike with a bald eagle would probably be messy for all concerned.
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.