Christmas Weekend

I drove the Quad Cities on Thursday, with plans to photograph eagles. That morning, I set out and at about 11AM, I encountered a super thick ice fog. I could barely see to drive. Had the sun not been shining through the ice fog, I wouldn’t have been able to continue. So this lasted for about 45 minutes or so. At some points, traffic almost stopped due to lack of visibility. It was kinda weird. It was also annoying because the forecast said nothing about an ice fog, and it said the sun was suppose to be out. I arrived at the eagle site around 1PM, to find ZERO eagles. I was shocked. So I went to 2 other locations where I found 2. This was odd for late December. I set out again on Saturday, after the snow storm, and again found ZERO at the main site. This time I went to 3 other sites, and found a total of about 10. Again, very odd. Finally on Sunday I went to the main site, and found about 4 eagles there, but they weren’t moving. There were many eagles flying upriver, but they weren’t landing. Just circling high above. I was there for over an hour, and never saw an eagle dive for fish. I don’t know where they went, because I’ve seen photographs from other photographers from that site this year? I guess I’ll try again later. ūüôā

I did encounter some new bird species today though. More to add to my life list. I saw a handful of Greater Scoups in breeding colors, and some Canvasbacks. One of my favorite waterfowl species is the Hooded Merganser, and there were a handful of them too.

 

www.nightowlphotography.com

 

 

Quad Cities Bald Eagle Photos

Last Thursday I took what will probably be my last trip to the Quad Cities for bald eagle photography this season. I actually tried to head down the night before, but got sacked by a pop-up blizzard here in Chicago. Lake effect snow is a pain in the butt! I couldn’t see 5 feet in front of my car due to white out conditions from the snow. So I ended up driving down Thursday morning to arrive around 11:30AM. My dad showed up around 1PM, and we stayed photographing eagles until about 4PM.

It was a picture perfect day for photographing bald eagles. The sun was out all day, the temp was about 30 degrees, and there were plenty of eagles. For the first couple of hours though, there was very little hunting by the eagles. They were mostly kettling high up into the sky on the air currents. Eventually they started to arrive to hunt though, and by about 3PM, there were so many hunting that it became difficult to decide which bird to focus track as they dove, because there were so many. I think the trees they perch in must have had about 30 birds in them by the end of the day. I got some of my best photos this trip, and I even got some good video too. (I’ll be posting that later.)

So at the end of the day, I went home with 650 images on my memory card. After many long hours of reviewing images, and waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting for Photoshop to do it’s thing, I whittled it down to 70 keeper images. Throwing out anything that wasn’t in focus, was a bad pose, had the eagle turned away from the camera, had bad lighting, or whatever. About half of those keepers are posted here on my website, and there are a couple of teasers for you to enjoy in this blog.

Please show your support with a comment on the images or the gallery if you like them. If you REALLY like them, you can buy them to hang on your wall!!! *wink*

Until next season . . . . .

First Bald Eagle Photo Trip Of 2010

So on Sunday 03 January 2010, I went for the first photo trip in search of bald eagles on the Mississippi River.  When my dad and I arrived that day, I think the temp was 0 degrees Fahrenheit, with a wind chill of about -15.  I was in what I call my “arctic armor”, which is basically wool hunting socks, thinsulate lined hunting boots, longjohns from neck to ankle, camo pants and shirt, wool gloves, wind proof hunting coat, a snug fitting winter beanie, and a neoprene ski mask.  (Which by the way heats your face with your own breath.  It’s amazing.)  So anyway, that’s my cold weather gear which I call artic armor. 

I’ve heard so many people at the camera store I work at talk about their cameras or batteries not working in this kind of weather, but I think they’re all crazy, because my camera works like a charm in this sub zero weather.  No problems with focusing or with batteries.  Even the view screen worked fine.  I use a D300 with a battery grip, and a 70-200 to shoot eagles.  Both work like a charm in frigid weather.

Since it was a Sunday, there were lots of photographers there, lots of amatuers too.  Plus the general families that just come to see the eagles with binoculars.  The guy who baits the eagles was there too, which he often is on weekends.  I forgot about that.  Not a fan.  I have moral problems with baiting anything I photograph.  Just don’t believe in it.  If you can’t improve your craft enough to get a shot without baiting, you don’t deserve the shot at all.  So I stayed AWAY from the baiting area for the entire day.  Funny thing is, I’d camp out in a spot, . . . wait . . . and when the eagles would start hunting near me, the ametuers would rush over to where I was to try to get shots, then the eagles would fly away.  *shakes head*  Reminder to self, for the rest of the season, only photograph eagles at LD14 on weekdays.  *grin* 

So for this first trip, I didn’t get any really good hunting shots of the eagles with talons open about to grasp a fish.  Instead I got a lot of nice close-ups of eagles flying overhead with fish in their talons.  I had a couple of shots that were kinda silhouettes, so I did some weird creative stuff with those.  Anyway, I hope you like the new shots in the gallery.

http://www.nightowlphotography.com/Birds/Raptors