I am always excited to see the Bald Eagles return to the Roger’s Pond Park on the Mousam River in winter. They are, of course, around all year, but they are most easily seen during the colder months when they tend to hunt the slack water below the rapids at the Park. Their favorite perch is just beyond the comfortable range of my 600mm lens, so I am often using Clear Image Zoom on the Sony Rx10iv to fill more of the frame with the bird. Sony Rx10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. Bald Eagles, by the way, are among the most challenging birds when it comes to exposure. You want good detail in the dark feathers, but you do not want to overexpose the head and loose all detail in the white features. Very often you have adjust both shadows and highlights in post processing. All part of the fun!
There is perhaps no bird more emblematic of Africa than the African Fish Eagle. It ranges over the whole continent south of the Sahara, and is common wherever there is enough water for fish. I have seen and photographed it in Greater Kruger National Park along the Olifants River in South Africa, on snags in the rift valley lakes in Kenya, in the marshes along the shores of Lake Victoria and on the banks of the Nile River and Kazinga Channel in Uganda. It is not threatened, endangered, or even rare, but it is worth a look at every encounter. And it’s call is familiar from hundreds of African film soundtracks. These shots are from our small tour boat on the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Take a look at the talons on this bird…fish hooks indeed! Sony Rx10iv at 1200mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
We really did see quite a few raptors during our #Epic_Uganda_Vacations birding and wildlife tour of Uganda. This is one that I really wanted a decent photograph of. I have seen it both in Kenya and South Africa, but never seen it well, and never had a good photo op. This was the best I could do in Uganda (Murchinson Falls National Park) for a mature bird…though we saw and photographed at least half a dozen immatures. Not the best shot, but still a memorable experience. The Bateleur is classed among the Hawk-Eagles. Sony RX10IV at 1200mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
This is another shot of the American Bald Eagle that posed so nicely for our digiscoping group during the Yellowstone Forever Institute ZEISS Digiscoping workshop in Yellowstone National Park. Taken with the ZEISS Harpia 85mm spotting scope and the Sony a6500 camera with the Sony E20mm f2.8 lens and the ZEISS Harpia M49 adapter. (It sounds harder than it is. Camera in Program mode, autofocus for final focus…touch to place the focus on the bird’s head.) Processed in Polarr.
Southern Portugal is rich in Eagles, compared to the Americas. There are 5 breeding in the region, and another that winters there…plus recent records of Steppe Eagle at least passing through (we saw one!). Of the possible breeding birds we saw all 5, plus the Steppe Eagle. Some were just little black dots soaring high on the thermals over the Castro Verde plains, but we got several closer views. These are immature (I believe), Booted Eagles from the banks of the Tagus where we took our boat trip. Two individuals sitting near each other, perhaps a potential pair. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
There are at least 2 Bald Eagles on the lower Mousam River this winter, ranging both north and south of Kennebunk. Once the river freezes they like to sit right at Roger’s Pond (picnic area and fishing access) where the rapids below the dam along Route One keep the river open. They fish the edge of the ice. With the unseasonably warm weather, there is no ice at all in the river, but I have heard from the dog walkers at Roger’s Pond that the Eagles are there off an on. I just have not managed to be there at the right time. Until yesterday! We had intermittent light flurries all day yesterday and it was snowing when I got to the pond. I almost missed the Eagle. I was most of the way around the pond before I saw it, half buried in one of the tall pines on the far side of the river. I had to walk back upstream further than I would have liked to find an open line of sight for some photos. Not the best light, and the camera focused on the snowflakes a few times, but here it is: Kennebunk Eagle in the Snow.
Nikon P900 at 2800mm equivalent field of view (with some Perfect Image digital zoom). 1/500th @ ISO 400 @ f6.5. Processed and cropped slightly for composition in Lightroom.
It looks like this pair of Bald Eagles is at least thinking about nesting between Back Creek and the Mousam River about 2 miles from our house in Kennebunk. I hope they do. It would give me a great summer project. On the other hand maybe it is just going to be a favored perch, and that is okay too. The nearest safe approach is still out 300 yards from this tall spruce, so I will not get any great images (that is just too much air to shoot through, especially between two streams), but I still like to see them there. In this shot, the male had just returned to the perch and the pair was sounding off. Literally screaming eagles. 🙂
Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/500th @ ISO 100 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom.
I had a lot of fun photographing the Eagles on the Mousam River at Roger’s Pond this winter. For 6 weeks or so three were regular there everyday. In March I did not see them so much, and in April and May I traveled much of the time and lost track of them. A fellow photographer told me they were still around in early June, but I had not seen one since early March. Until yesterday. I was at the pond hunting dragonflies and the crows across the Mousam were making a real racket. I checked the trees casually, knowing the racket could mean a hawk, or even an Eagle, but I did not see the Eagle until it flew. It landed a hundred yards or more down river, but still just within reach of my 600mm lens (pumped up to 1200mm digitally).
So I have to wonder, did the Eagle show up for the 4th of July festivities here in Kennebunk, returning just in time from wanderings further inland and further north? Or has it been causing the Mousam river out of my sight since March? Either way, it certainly adds to my celebration of our Independence to have the National bird resident here in town. We will be doing the traditional cook-out thing with the grandparents, but all the time in the back of my mind I will know that there is a Bald Eagle on the Mousam near Roger’s Pond! 🙂
Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom. 1200mm equivalent (2x digital extender). Shutter preferred @ 1/640th. Processed in Snapseed on my tablet.