Friday, February 12, 2010

Day 3: Return to Iowa! (FINAL)

Lo and Behold.. Two sunny days in a row so plenty of light... and PLENTY of eagles! I would GUESS 50-60 eagles in the area! They seemed to be everywhere at times.

We started out early this morning. It was 1 degree F. The Mississippi River had sheets of ice floating by the hotel. We arrived and saw maybe 6 eagles in the immediate area.  Everyone was cold... us and the eagles and they (the eagles) didn't move for most of the morning. When it is really cold, they prefer not to fly to conserve energy. We went over to the ice area but saw no eagles on the ice at the time we were there. One landed on the ice briefly then flew off.

We then made back to the boardwalk area.. again no movement. I spend time getting some nice front-lit portraits of the eagles in the trees.  From what I am told by the local photographers, the mornings are typically "dead" (little activity). We went to lunch and returned around 12:30pm. More photogs started showing up. We had a crowd of 40 or so photogs by 1:30 pm. One of the local guys brought some fish to throw out into the river to get the eagles off their duffs!  Within 5 secs, 4 eagles were circling and checking the bait fish out...

THEN around 3:00 pm... someone rang the dinner bell as numerous eagles started coming from all directions, fishing, circling, flying overhead, tree to tree, etc.... and then a period of maybe 30-45 mins, NOTHING again... then all of sudden eagles appeared out of thin again... this went on until sunset... everyone left by 5:15 pm (sunset was 5:30pm) Myself and 2 other people were just leaving and BAMMMM... eagles everywhere again... fishing... they must have realized they better get their supper as it will be dark soon! It was non-stop for 15 minutes...

It was damn near dark and I am shooting @ f4, ISO 1600, +1 EV just to attempt to capture the action.... I was lucky to capture an attempted "fish-jacking" as an adult and another juvi tried to steal a juvenile's fish from him! The one adult is flying upside down with talons up in an attempt to grab the fish but he was not successful! The juvenile got away and flew to a nearby tree to eat his supper. See image below.

It was a "shoot out" at the OK Corral as I netted a total of 100GB of RAW images!

I am looking forward to leading the bald eagles MPEG GroupShoot there soon as I want the GS attendees to experience the Midwest's ultimate location for bald eagle photography too!

I am posting 3 images today:

(1) A tree (or more) full of eagles! I counted 16 in this image.
(2) The fishjacking!  An adult and another juvi ganging up on a juvenile eagle but they were not successful this time.
(3) A juvenile eagle flies right at me and over my camera lens.

I apologize as the images are RAW converted to JPEGs with no routine post processing. Click on each pic for a larger view!

Thanks to all of you following my blog!


  1. Mark, I managed to stay up so I could catch your blog and photos of the eagles. Your shots, never cease to amaze me.

    Where will you go from here?

  2. Great Mark, thanks so much for the posts. I will be on the road shortly.


  3. Mark, We are all rewarded for your perseverance in getting these shots. Thanks for sharing them.