Friday, April 3, 2015

A Bald Eagle and His Rabbit Dinner

To set the stage for tonight's photos, we will rewind a month and a half ago or so to a return trip from my in-laws. We had just recently exited the freeway and were on the home stretch to arriving at home and on the side of the road not 20 feet from the pavement is a mature bald eagle standing there, likely eating some small animal. Returning from a weekend trip we had the camera in the car and everything, but as the kids have already been in the car for a good two hours I didn't think it fair to them to stop and prolong the impending arrival at home. Looking back I wish I would have stopped as, at the very least, I would have been able to jump out for a minute and a half and taken a couple quick photos of the lovely bird.

Now, fast forward to last Friday when I am on my way home after making two quick stops after work. My wife and our two kids are already at her parent's house and I would be heading out after work to join them for the weekend. I was actually thinking on my way home how sweet it would be to see another eagle on my way out of town as I will have the camera and no kiddos to worry about, making it quite convenient to stop for photos. Turns out I didn't have to wait until my way out of town to see one. Driving home I see what looks to be the unmistakable white tail feathers of a bald eagle flying away toward the foot hills and also nearby I can see two juvenile eagles circling around above the field. As I was passing the house adjacent to this particular field I look over just in time to see another eagle descending near the home toward the field. With time to spare before leaving town (my way of avoiding traffic, leave later and miss it all!) and an empty house, there is no way I am passing up this potential opportunity for eagle watching! I get home, change shoes, grab the camera bag, attach the 55-300mm lens, jump back in the car and head back out to see if the large raptor is still nearby.

As I near the field I can see that no more than about 50 yards from the side of the road the sight I was looking forward to seeing was right there: a beautiful mature bald eagle, picking at a dead rabbit. I pull off the road, get out of my car and start my evenings adventure of avian photography. The photo session begins with me taking pictures of the bird while he consumes his rabbit dinner, not a lot of movement, but nonetheless I am enjoying every moment.

At one point while I was crouching there watching the eagle eat, I hear the loud blast of a passing vehicle's horn. Slightly startled, I instinctively glance back at the road seeking the source of the disturbance. The loud, and brief, outpouring of sound also gave a slight start to our feasting feathered friend. As I shift my focus once again to the field and the subject of my evening's fascination, I am refocusing just in time to see his wings close up and his feet settle back down onto the valley's floor. My first thought was oh no, I missed it! Why did I turn and look away?! But this little disturbance would prove to be a God sent blessing as it would lead to my favorite and best photo of the day. Moments after my attention was once again fixated on the magnificent eagle, he took one little hop then spread out his wings to make the short jaunt of several feet back over to his momentarily neglected meal. Once settled back down to his evening's sustanence I checked my LCD screen to see that I had in fact captured his little hop and flap movement in focus with wings fully spread!

No wanting to miss anything, I stayed and watched the eagle until he took off and flew out my 300mm zoom lenses usable range for detailed photos of my subject. I did manage to capture a photo of him moments after take off, still clutching in his talons what was left of the rabbit meal just before he dropped it. Unfortunately, this photo wasn't focused perfectly though it is acceptable for viewing and might still look alright as maybe a 5x7 print. On my way out of town, I glanced over at the field to see if there would be reason to stop for an encore show. There wouldn't be this trip. The  two juveniles were still lingering around the field, but not close enough to make for any compelling photos with the gear I have. There's my story, now for the photos!

Bald Eagle and His Rabbit Dinner
Picking at his rabbit dinner

Bald Eagle Looking Up from His Rabbit Dinner
Looking up from the rabbit

Bald Eagle Spreading His Wings
Spreading his wings with a hop-flight back to his dinner

Bald Eagle Approaching His Rabbit Dinner
Almost back to his dinner

Bald Eagle Taking Flight With His Rabbit Dinner
Taking off with his rabbit dinner

I sure hope this isn't my last time being blessed with a similar scene to photograph along this road. With any luck I will either have a longer lens or a closer bird for a target! This sure felt like a small gift from God, as the thought was on my mind as I was leaving work and the timing was incredible given the travel plans of the weekend (no kids waiting at home).



No comments:

Post a Comment