(This post originally published in December 2010).
… “I’m going fishing!”
During the past couple of weeks, the Missouri weather has been cold. Coupled with decreased wildlife activity, not much to photograph. So I’ve been doing a lot of image editing from the past few years, trying to make myself get rid of those images that are not of high quality, but have a “sentimental” value (talk about a difficult task for us photographers!) and making more valuable space on my hard drive. During this process, I have been finding some images that were made prior to my Nature Blog, so I decided I’d fill in the slow time with posts using some of these images.
Today’s images are a sequence I shot in the beautiful “Valley of the Eagles”, outside Haines, Alaska. I love going to this area in October or November, with the sole purpose of photographing Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). A large area along the Chilkat River has been established as a bald eagle refuge. And warm springs in this area keep the Chilkat River flowing much longer than most other waterways in this area. Additionally, there is a late run of salmon through the area. Open water … salmon … hmmm, can only mean one thing, Bald Eagles. In fact, it is not uncommon to have 3,500 to 5,000 bald eagles along a 2-1/2 mile area of the river here!
Eagles fishing at this location do not catch and fly off with fish, like the typical eagle does. The water in this area is very shallow, often only inches deep. Also, the salmon are much too large for the eagles to catch and fly off with. Consequently, when the eagles spot a salmon, they simply fly to it, pounce on it, and begin feeding in the water. This also sets up some interesting photo opps, as the eagles are “sitting ducks” for attacks by other eagles; eagles are notorious pirates when it comes to food. But let’s get to the images of today’s post … this sequence features a sub-adult bald eagle (note the salt-and-pepper head and tail) that is in the process of landing himself a spawned-out salmon in the shallow water: