I think as a wildlife photography we all have a set of images in our head that we would love to capture. A top 10 if you want to call it...on my list was to capture an intimate moment between a Bald Eagle and its chick on a nest. There are a lot of elements that make this type of image difficult to capture but I think the most difficult is capturing the image without disturbing the birds during this critical nesting period.
I remember one spring day driving around Terrenceville and Jenelle's father pointing out an Osprey nest along the main road heading into the small town. The nest was high up on the cliff side in the deep valley. A light blub went off..could this possible be my chance to photography a raptor on its nest with young? I studied the pair that year watching their flight paths, keeping note of the sun direction and the times the adults would head out for food and how often. In Sept after a successful breeding year the family headed off to their wintering grounds. It was time to scout the area further....
Climbing the cliff side was not easy...at times I would have to pull myself up using the trees that clung to the cliff. As I ascended to an eye level view of the nest I was surprised to see that the tick forest opened up giving me a perfect view. In the far distance was the other side of the valley creating the perfect back drop.
That winter was very long..painfully waiting for all the snow to melt and for the opportunity to build my blind. The construction of the blind had to be done before their arrival. I did not want my presence to disturb their natural behavior.
The blind was constructed out of a camo tarp, then completely covered in spruce tree branches. I cut a small hole out of the front of the tarp just large enough to fit my lens through.
April 18th they arrived. As much as I wanted to head to the blind I waited. My goal was to capture the parents with the babies so no need to head to the blind yet. Mid way through July I finally made the journey through the think woods to the blind. This time I climbed higher into the hills making sure the osprey couldn't see me and I slowly descended to the blind from above using the trees to conceal my presence.
Finally I was inside the blind and starring my dream straight in the face.
My heart was beating so fast..I was unsure if the eggs had hatched yet. I had assumed but could not see any chicks. Mom seemed impatient with dad as he fished in the river near by. She would call out to him as he passed by
One of his first return trips was without food but with nesting material.
The mother didn't seem to be all to impressed and drove him off again to hopefully return with food.
After waiting sometime I finally caught a glimpse of something small moving in the nest
not one but two heads popped up...then..a Third
When the third one popped up and was close to the parent I knew it was chance. The little guy seemed very eager to get food and moved closer to the mom..As he looked up at the parent I capture this shot
All my hard work and patients paid off. I was more then happy with the images captured but was even happier that I was able to do so without disturbing the birds. I want to make sure to point out... that in no way were these birds disturbed. Everything was carefully planned out so that I was able to get in and out of the nest site without being noticed. Their well being was top priority and I would never put them in harm just to get a shot..no image is worth that. The parents successfully raised all three young that year.
Some of you might be thinking..wait didn't he say he wanted to photography an eagle on a nest with its young?...Yes yes but come on..I think this is a great consolation price...lol