It is no secret to most people from this area that we have at least one resident, nesting bald eagle here in Whitinsville. I have seen this eagle on at least four separate occasions, and always without my camera. The many times I have driven around with my camera, with the single purpose to getting some photos of it, I've never seen it.
A few months ago, after locating the nest, I started a mini quest to someday get a great photograph of this symbol of America, right here, within a few miles of my house! Not surprisingly, this nest is located in a spot that isn't very easy to get to. Last night however, I decided to make my first attempt.
I launched my Poke boat (kayak-like, tiny boat) at around 7pm. My research had shown that this nest is located in a spot that is far more ideal for a morning shoot, rather than an evening. However, I had some spare time last night, and I really wanted to get out and take some pictures, so I rationalized I could make it work with afternoon light. I was half right.
Luckily, once I made the paddle to where I could see the nest, I noticed the adult eagle sitting on a lower branch, and two chicks in the nest. However, these can hardly be referred to as 'chicks' anymore. I believe until they've officially fledged from the nest, they aren't technically considered immature eagles, but these birds were flapping their wings, and hovering in flight about a foot above the nest. They are very, very close to leaving the comforts of home. Yet, as large as these young birds are, if they weren't testing their wings, or standing up in the nest, I could not see them at all. Needless to say, this nest is a deep, massive structure, at the very top of the tallest tree.
From a safe distance behind some branches, I watched as the adult eagle first called up to the chicks, as if to say "I'll be right back!", and then flew off. I assumed for more food. Once it was out of sight, I made my move to get as close as I could. I backed my fully camouflaged boat, and my fully camouflaged self, into the grass and reeds about 75 yards from the shore where the nest was located. For the next three hours, I watched the adult come back with a fish, I watch he/she constantly calling up to the chicks, I watched it fly off several more times being chased by starlings and other small, annoying birds, before it always returned to the same lower branch, behind the tree the nest is in.
At around the time the sunset was giving us another awesome show last night, I started to paddle back to my truck. I did manage a few so-so photos. I will definitely be returning for more, very soon. I consider this a successful first attempt, and the next time I go, I will have some different gear, I will set up in a slightly different spot, and I will definitely make this a morning shoot to take full advantage of the best light for this location.
Stay tuned for more Whitinsville eagle posts.
Thank you all.
This first image was taking from my initial location. The young bird is taking a moment to practice his flapping, as mom (or dad) watches from below.
In this second picture, the adult was just taking off from the nest, and I was able to catch it in flight. Look at those talons!!
In this last image, the adult is calling up to the young in the nest above. It did this repeatedly, over a span of three hours, almost remaining in constant communication to the younger birds. Although I never did hear them call back.