Tag Archives: raptor

Sea Eagles

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.

Buzzed By A Bald Eagle

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.

Eagles on Camano Island

There were a few bald eagles hanging out on Camano Island during our trip there.  There was one in a tree near the shore when we first got there.  It didn’t seem in the least bit interested in us as we walked below it.  If an eagle has recently eaten, it is quite likely to hang around for a long time doing nothing so we didn’t wait around to see what it did.

When we came back there were now two eagles in the area.  I’ve no idea whether one was our original or if these two had come along since.  A third flew past at one point getting the two quite agitated.  If you have never heard the noise a bald eagle makes, you might be quite surprised.  They have a high pitched squeak which doesn’t seem in keeping with their size.  It is easy to identify though.

I wandered around trying to get the two of them in shot together.  They were quite offset distance wise which meant getting them both in focus wasn’t practical.  I did try and little Photoshop focus stacking when I got home though.  It’s funny that bald eagles are so common in this part of the world but it is still exciting to see one and everyone seems to respond the same way.

Shock Diamonds and the F-22

Within the very high speed flows of air in an aircraft’s exhaust, you can set up a series of shock waves and expansion fans as a result of the differences between the pressure of the flow and that of the surrounding air.  When afterburner is engaged, the hot gases and the temperature changes these shocks and expansions cause, result in a diamond pattern forming in the exhaust plume.  In darker conditions, these diamonds are more conspicuous but they are visible even in normal daylight.

These diamond patterns are a function of the flow being symmetrical since most engines have round exhaust nozzles.  This isn’t the case for the F-22, though.  It has flattened nozzles with a pointed profile top and bottom.  This got me wondering what the effect is on the exhaust plume and whether the traditional diamonds are formed or whether the nozzle shape results in a different pattern of shock and expansions as they reflect within the plume.  I decided to dig in to some shots to see what I could find.

I don’t have a lot of F-22 afterburner shots.  While I have shot them a lot taking off, they often take off without afterburner.  Since they have plenty of power and burner use dramatically increases fuel consumption (and the F-22 is not over-endowed with range as it is), there is no point using burner if it isn’t needed.  Air shows are a time when they do give it plenty of burner, so that is the source of the shots.

The result of this is that there is definitely something unusual about the shock patterns.  I include some shots of F-16 and F/A-18 afterburner plumes and the normal shock patterns that create the hotspots known as the diamonds are very obvious and simple in shape.  For the F-22, things are very different with the patterns of hot zones being something more in line with the shape of the nozzle.  The way in which the patterns repeat is more complex than for an axisymmetric nozzle.  There is nothing much to conclude in these observations.  It is just something that appeals to an old aero guy like me.

Eagles Versus Hornets(ish)

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.

Picking Up More Than You Can Handle?

After work one evening, I headed to Log Boom Park in Kenmore.  I was thinking I might shoot a few floatplanes as they returned at the end of the day but I hadn’t timed it right for that and didn’t see any.  However, the local wildlife was busy including a few bald eagles that were out hunting on the lake.  Some immature eagles were out and about but a couple of adults were also trying their luck.  I saw one of them start to dive down on a target and followed with the camera.

The eagle struck its target and grabbed it out of the water successfully.  However, it hadn’t fully appreciated just how large a fish this was.  It was a beast and the eagle started to try and climb away without success.  This fish was too heavy for it.  That wasn’t going to deter it though.  It had caught dinner and wasn’t intent on letting it go.  Flapping furiously, it tried to gain speed and altitude.  Speed was fine but altitude was a different story.  Instead, it adopted a new tactic.  Dangling the fish beneath it, the tail of the fish was slapping on the surface of the water.  This seemed to provide a little support and the combination proceeded to skim across the surface of the lake.  Only when at the shore was a final surge of effort put in to pull up on to an awning where the eagle landed and laid out its catch.

Eagles Scouting the Lake

The ospreys on Lake Washington have got some attention on the blog recently.  However, they are not alone.  Some bald eagles have also been showing up.  They aren’t around in such large numbers and I didn’t see so much fishing activity close by but they were out there having a hunt for some food and sometimes came closer in allowing a shot or three.  They are an impressive looking bird.

Ospreys on the Hunt

Sitting out by Lake Washington watching the boat and floatplane traffic also provided a view of the local residents fishing.  These residents aren’t the humans on the pier with fishing poles.  These are the ospreys.  There are lots of ospreys that are around the north end of the lake at this time of year.  They are circling overhead looking for targets and then swooping down to catch them.

It is not usual to get them making their catch close in but sometimes you can see them diving in the grab a fish.  However, when they catch something, they do head back passed the shore as they make their way to their nests.  A fish tucked under their body and held in a forward alignment to make it easier to fly with is not a rare sight.  You also can get them circling overhead as they look for some food but I guess nothing too tasty was near me.

Juanita’s Resident Eagles

The presence of the eagles on Juanita Bay was something I have seen before but I had not been out with the camera before to catch them.  I saw one eagle hunting out on the water as I moved towards the bay and this startled the wildfowl as I mentioned in a previous post.  The eagle involved then flew back to one of the trees on the shore and perched there for quite a while.  I got to one of the boardwalks in the park where I could sit it waiting, a little far away and almost directly in the sun.  Time to wait.

I hung around for quite a while hoping this eagle would make a move.  It seemed to have more patience than me.  Meanwhile, I was looking around to see whether anything else was on the move – the swans perhaps.  Then my eye caught some movement coming across the bay towards me out of the background of the hills opposite.  I suddenly realized that it was another eagle.  It was already climbing as I realized and I tried hard to get the camera up towards it despite having the monopod attached.  I got a focus on it just as it reached the tree branch it was aiming for.  A great flare of wings and then it was perched, almost directly above me.

I got a bunch more shots of it as it found a comfortable position on the perch and there is remained.  I was getting pretty cold and the light was fading so I decided to head back around the park.  The last I saw it was still up there.

Forgotten F-22 Pass

There are a lot of air shows that I have been to over the years.  You think you remember them well and then something shows up in your archive of images that you have completely forgotten about.  I am a member of a Facebook group that has a different challenge each week and, when I get the next challenge, I work through my catalog to see what I have that might contribute.  It is an interesting exercise in finding stuff that I had forgotten about.

This wasn’t one of those challenges but I was looking for something else when I came across this shot of an F-22 pulling vapor and shockwaves as it did a fast pass at the Rockford Air Show.  Rockford was a great show that I used to go to when I lived in Chicago.  They always got great static displays and performers for the flying display.  The only limitation was that you were pretty much shooting in to the sun.

This F-22 made a fast pass and was clearly pulling a lot of vapor as it went.  I don’t know why I forgot about this sequence but apparently I did.  I had a go at processing them again to see what I could make of the shots this time compared to my technique in 2009.  Not an easy shot to make work but the plane is dramatic enough to make it worthwhile I think.