Sunday, February 9, 2014

Second Round

It is early but I know that my efforts will be rewarded the more I get out photographing the eagles. I put my layers of cloths on and make my way downstairs to make coffee. My wife is up already and has, to my delight, started the coffee. Once it is finished I drink a couple of cups in hopes to warm and wake me up. I eventually work my way up to putting the dogs out for their morning constitution.

After feeding the dogs I pack my bag and head out the roller dam on the Cedar River. The air is cold and the light of the sun is on the horizon as I make my way. “This time I will park a small distance from the river and walk in” I thought to myself. “This way I will hopefully not disturb the eagle or the rest of the wildlife.” Arriving, I parked the car and got myself situated for the walk. The sun is now just below the tree line so I quicken my pace to the spot I want to start shooting.

I entered the river bank area by an opening that seems to be a boat ramp. It is just less than a quarter mile from the dam and where the eagles like to hang out. I figured on hiking into the area they are roosting and take photos along the way. The sun is now just breaking over the trees. The warm light catches the steam lifting off the water and bathes the duck and geese on the river. I stop and set up to squeeze off a few frames.  Taking this moment I sit a listen to the river rushing downstream, the ducks and geese calling out, alerting every one of my presents. A that moment I caught a faint sound of the eagle cry in the distance. I turned and up in the trees next to the dam I could see them.

The sun was up and the light caught 5 white heads of the eagles as they sat in the tree. Crying out they took flight on the crisp morning air. The hunt was on. For them fishing was first priority but for me I had to hike some distance over uneven snow packed ground before I could start photographing. I quickly switched my lens to the 500mm mirrored, secured my bag and made my way slowly to a good safe spot.

As I made my way I ran across a crow that tolerated me being very close. So close in fact I could almost touch him. Surrounded by twigs I slowly put my view finder to my eye, focused and started to take photos. Slowly moving around the crow I got three different shots with the third one being the best, a head shot. “My wife will like this one.” I thought with the click of the shutter and with that I made my way to the eagles as the crow remaining undisturbed.
With the eagles on the hunt I moved in quickly to a spot halfway to my intended destination. Pulling the viewfinder up to my eye I started my exercise of fixing on a target and keeping it focused. This time I had a plan. As the eagles flew away I turned the lens focus to the left and to the right as they got closer. I fired off a few frames and watched as they retreated back into the trees. After a few minutes I started slowly making my way to the spot close enough to get good shots. 20 minutes and 80 yards passed and I reached a place where I was close enough to photograph the eagles but not spook them. Now the waiting begins.  

In between flights I would turn my attention on the other birds that occupied the area. Just out of sight I hear a cardinal, blue jay, and chickadee calls but always at a distance. The duck and geese continued to call and fly in and out of the area. Then out of nowhere the eagles would take to flight again and the exercise would begin again. I worked the lens as I trained my eye on the targets. They would fly close but not close enough for that one money shot similar to the one I got my first day shooting. And as soon as it started, it would be all over and the eagles would return to the trees waiting for the next flight.

The eagles did not seem  keen about getting too close so I took my shots were I could. The cold was getting to the lens so quickly focusing was becoming a problem which in turn yielded a lot of missed shots. I did however get a few more photos of them perching on the trees. One in particular had the eagle framed by the branches in the foreground which turned out to be the best of the day shot for me.

Time passed and eventually the cold got to me so I made my way back to the parking lot. I managed to grab one more photograph of geese swimming on the river in the fog rising out of the water. Up the ramp and to the parking lot I put my camera in the gallon bag and sealed it up tight. Stuffed it back into the bag and made my way home. It is 0930 and the sun is now warming up the trees and the snow is falling off of them. It is bright and colors have been washed out from the sky as I make my way home. I think I will try a late afternoon shoot next time that could be fun.