Posts tagged “bald eagle

Eagles flying at the Mount Lorette Ponds

eagles-in-flight-over-the-lorette-ponds-christopher-martin-2971

This year I have photographed a pair of Bald eagles who nested at the Mount Lorette Ponds.  These small lakes in Kananaskis are stocked with Rainbow trout most years so these eagles have obviously found an excellent location to summer.  On this morning in mid-August the day took a little while to warm up which saw both birds perch in the trees nearby.  I waited for a couple of hours for a fish catching run with no luck.

eagles-in-flight-over-the-lorette-ponds-christopher-martin-3082

The luck I did have was watching these two beautiful animals as they surveyed their land below.  One eagle was more active early and flew to different trees a few times before disappearing into the forest above the water.  I hiked around for a bit before returning and finding one over the water again while the other perched on the edge of that forest.

eagles-in-flight-over-the-lorette-ponds-christopher-martin-2973


Eagle fishing in the Banff National Park

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5085

I watched this eagle glide across the Vermilion Lake from its nest on the far side.  Ahead of his arrival on the shore in front of me, waterfowl and a couple of Great blue heron scattered in all directions.  The eagle flew higher and circled a couple of times, staring into the water.  He dove, his claws slicing the water, but finding no joy.  The raptor pulled up into a branch of a dead tree to reconsider its approach.

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5077

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5078

Twenty minutes passed before his second flight.  He flew in a wide arc, gaining a little more altitude.  The birds that had been on the water, had not returned so the eagle had a clean line this time.

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5086

He dove, again, and this time his talons came off the surface with a fish in their grasp.

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5089

The fish was quickly moved from talons to beak and then swallowed mid-flight.

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5093

The eagle flew back up to the same tree and settled on a branch near where it had been pestered by the blackbird earlier.  From there, I hoped he would fish again and I waited for more than an hour.  Along the way, he called out a few times which gave some interesting head and beak positions to photograph.

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5253

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5420


Flying low over the Prairies

Low flying Prairie eagle - © Christopher Martin-4927
The Bald eagles in the Livingstone area have held my attention for more than a full day and I’m looking forward to getting back there soon.  I am wanting to catch one of their attacks on the Richardson ground squirrels that blanket the fields.  The last time I went out, this immature eagle flew in front of me and I thought it might find one.  It didn’t happen then but the opportunity for in-flight photographs was wonderful.

Low flying Prairie eagle - © Christopher Martin-4923


A Bald eagle’s Prairie flight

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3331

Watching birds in flight is a source of great pleasure for me.  Perhaps it’s the freedom I imagine they enjoy (written just as two ravens glided by my window, acrobatically playing on the air currents outside) or the grace that many of them carry into the sky.  When I have the gift of watching them close to the ground, it gives a different perspective and one that I particularly enjoy photographing.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3315

So when two of the four bald eagles that watched for quite a while on the weekend glided off of their tree perch and landed out on the field nearby, I was excited.  I had hoped they may dive on the prairie dogs as they passed by.  They did not, it seemed that an alert had gone up as the little creatures were nowhere to be seen at that moment, and they alighted in the short grass.  They chirped a little at each other but it seemed like they were just enjoying the sunshine as they stood in their respective spots for close to ten minutes.  The adolescent launched first – I wanted to blur the wings in flight so I dragged my shutter.  I’m still evaluating those results – we’ll see another day if I think they are worth sharing.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3316

When the mature eagle lifted off the Prairie, I kept the shutter speed fast to freeze the motion and panned with the beautiful bird as it powerfully drove past.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3321

When it buzzed a magpie that had also been sitting in the field, that bird flew up and in front of the eagle for a short ways.  The eagle’s eyes were on this diminutive cousin of the raven and the crow but it was undeterred as it flew back towards its small convocation.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3329

As it gained a little altitude, I liked the way the elements in the background looked in soft focus.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3339

At one moment during this short flight it did look down at the field at one point – again raising my hopes of a dive – but nothing like that came of it.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3345

Both eagles rejoined the other two that had remained in the tree.  They all remained there for an hour before hunting over the fields individually later.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3581


Eagle ways

Maycroft bald eagles - © Christopher Martin-2910

At one point when I was watching the group of Bald eagles I found east of the Crowsnest Pass last weekend, one of the adults landed in a tree close to where I was set up.  Looking closely, I saw that he had a Prairie dog in one of its claws.

Maycroft bald eagles - © Christopher Martin-2842

He finished the meal quickly and then set about cleaning its beak and talons.  He used the stubs on the branch to rub against and as leverage during the cleaning.  I was fascinated with the fastidiousness with which he carried out this work.

Maycroft bald eagles - © Christopher Martin-2967

When that was done, he provided a few great poses for portrait shots while scanning the fields for more creatures and the skies for his fellow eagles.

Maycroft bald eagles - © Christopher Martin-2990

After a few minutes, he flew off to a larger tree nearby where the other three eagles were perched.

Maycroft bald eagles - © Christopher Martin-3060


A Bald eagle’s branch dance

Bald eagle's branch dance - © Christopher Martin-2949
I found an aerie of four Bald eagles east of the Crowsnest Pass this weekend.  They perched in still dormant trees that divide up several farm fields.  From these perches, they can hunt for the ground squirrels that scurry between their holes among the short grass.  This eagle had just finished his meal and I caught him adjusting his position on the branch.  It looked a bit like a line dancing sidestep to me.


An eagle in the woods

Redwood Eagle - © Christopher Martin-0573-4

There was a murder of crows circling a wooded spot east of Bragg Creek that caught my attention.  I was driving into Calgary and pulled over to see what was going on.  At that moment, this Bald eagle flew out of the trees and blasted through the middle of the group.  They scattered and the eagle landed on a branch close by.

Redwood Eagle - © Christopher Martin-0533

Redwood Eagle - © Christopher Martin-0568

Whatever had drawn these opportunists in must have been deeper in the woods as I couldn’t see anything from where I was parked.  While the eagle looked around I had time to switch lenses in favour of the longest one I have so I was able to get in quite close.  The detail in the feathers was nice especially with the strong lighting – the relatively low angle of the sun in winter helped me here.

Redwood Eagle - © Christopher Martin-0574

After a couple of minutes the eagle launched and banked into the forest.  The crows had not yet returned so I imagined that he was hoping to finish his meal before being bothered again.

 


Eagles in the Elk Valley


Elk Eagle Valley - © Christopher Martin-0150

We were in Fernie a couple of weeks ago and on the drive home found a few Bald eagles who were flying around a carcass that had been pulled a few hundred meters off the highway.  They scattered when we first stopped but came circling back around the trees and back to the easy meal.  A nice break during the lean winter months.

Elk Eagle Valley - © Christopher Martin-0157

Elk Eagle Valley - © Christopher Martin-0161

 


Eagle along the Cowboy Trail

On to the perch - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 1600

A Bald Eagle spent a couple of mornings in and around a field east of Bragg Creek where the prairie starts.

2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 1600

He landed in the grass in one general spot a few times on the two days that I stopped to watch so I suspect there was a carcass that was an easy meal.

Scouring the field - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/25ooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 800

The only distraction came from a pair of ravens that pestered the eagle in the air and on the field.  They proved to not be a significant deterrent as the eagle muscled them out away.

Bird jousting - 2014 © Christopher Martin

 Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 800


Merry Christmas!

Winter flight - 2013 © Christopher MartinWinter Flight – A Bald eagle flies under falling snow in Brackendale, B.C. on December 20th, 2013

December has been a busy end to a busy year.  It is nice to have a few days over Christmas to spend time at home with my family.   I hope you are able to do the things that make for a great holiday for you and yours.  Merry Christmas!


Beak to talon

Beak to talon - 2013 © Christopher Martin

There was one additional encounter with a Bald eagle in the Khutzeymateen that I really enjoyed.  The rain cleared on the evening of the second day and the weather was beautiful on the morning of the third day.  We were crossing the inlet heading towards the side where the sun had just reached down the mountains to the shoreline.  An eagle was lit beautifully as it perched on a rock exposed during low tide.

River guardian - 2013 © Christopher Martin

At first I thought it was watching the seagulls at the mouth of the creek it was perched beside.  We watched it for a while as it surveyed its dominion.  It seemed in no rush to join the fray as the gulls jostled for scraps of fish that floated downstream from a bear working on the salmon up in the creek hidden in the forest.

Rocky perch - 2013 © Christopher Martin

When it took flight clutching the tail end of a salmon in its beak that it had pulled out of a little nook, I realized it had been pausing between feasts.  Watching it pass right in front of our boat, I had a few good images.  When it started to climb off the water, it passed the fish from to its talons, presumably allowing for more comfortable flight.

Sushi to go - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Under the radar - 2013 © Christopher Martin

A raptor in profile - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I loved the light and the sense of place in the flight images.  When the eagle passed the fish back, it was the defining moment of the encounter for me.


Eagles along the Grand Valley Road

Soaring - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Our family went for a drive along the Grand Valley Road northwest of Cochrane a few days ago in search of raptors of any description.  This road is nice drive that is rarely busy and can often yield sightings of owls, hawks or eagles.  In a hilly farmland area we noticed a number of ravens circling around a stand of trees in a field a couple of hundred metres off the road.  When we pulled over to see what the focus of their attention was two coyotes bolted out from under a large cedar and sprinted across the open into the thicker forest on the far side of the field.  Looking back to the spot where they started running we could see a carcass that had been mostly picked clean of what, judging by one of the horns that was sticking up, appeared to be a bison.  As it was on farm land it seems likely there were bison being raised here but there were no other farm animals within sight to confirm that theory.  With coyotes, ravens, magpies and probably a number of other predators drawn to this unfortunate beast, its herd was likely as far away from this spot as the fences would allow.  So, we were watching the ravens which were squawking and pestering the smaller birds picking at the  scraps when Bobbi noticed a Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) approaching from down the valley.

Scouting - 2013 © Christopher Martin

We already had the long lenses out so we were able to photograph the bird as it flew overhead towards the other birds.  Two ravens also saw the eagle inbound and flew up to harass this new attendee.  The three looped around the trees for a minute before the eagle landed in one of the high branches and the black birds returned to ground.

Dogfight - 2013 © Christopher Martin

During this chase, the overcast skies took on a more threatening tone and soon a soft snowfall turned into a blizzard.  I thought the Golden eagle would wait out the height of the storm from the perch so I kept looking around to see if the coyotes, or anything else, came back.

Blizzard flight - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Out of the sheets of snow a Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) swooped in and took up a spot on a tree near to the Golden.  This had turned out to be a great encounter and when a couple more Bald eagles flew in and around over the next half an hour, it continued to get better and better.  The snow did finally ease up and there were opportunities for nice flight images.

Adult bald eagle in flight - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The lighter skies appeared to spur one of the Bald eagles to say goodbye to a raven it had been sharing a tree with across the field and glide over to the bison skeleton.

Into the air - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Along the forest's edge - 2013 © Christopher Martin

This eagle brought a good amount of conviction to its scavenging intent and it chased off all of the passerine that had been crowding on the ground.

Scattering the scavengers - 2013 © Christopher Martin

When we moved on, this eagle was alone on the ground having successfully landed and taken ownership of what remained.

On guard - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The Golden eagle had disappeared and two Bald eagles were perched where they could keep an eye on the bones.  The collection of black birds were scattered in singles and small groups around the scene though none strayed close to the eagle holding dominion on the ground.  The last wildlife we saw as we drove away were the coyotes trotting along the hill towards the farm-house keeping their distance while still keeping an eye on the bison.