I Got An Itch…

Have you ever been in a situation where you have had to stay perfectly still? If so, then can you explain to me why the moment you need to be perfectly still you get an itchy nose or an itch on other body part..so much so that it begins to drive you crazy and you just need to find a way to slowly move to scratch it..well let me tell you about my itchy situation.

A while back it was brought to my attention of a location (which I will not be disclosing out of respect for the wildlife in the area and also the photographer that pointed me to it. Also if you figure out or think you know the location please keep it to yourself) in which it appears large numbers of Eagles are gathering to bathe, drink and interact. See, even though we have a decent population of Eagles on the island of Newfoundland & Labrador getting close images of them is not always easy since they are very skittish.  So knowing a location where groups of them hung out was very exciting to me.

Knowing how Eagles react at the sight of humans I had to plan out my excursion very well. So this past weekend I headed out at 4:15 am to drive to this location. I wanted to be setup in my pull over blind well before sunrise so that I would not be spotted heading into the wetland. Obviously if one Eagle noticed me it would be game over. So, 45 mins before sunrise, I was sitting waste high in water, covered in my blind and waiting patiently…with my hands gripped tightly onto my D850…yup that’s right the D850..

So let’s back up a few days here and explain one of the other itches I have needed to satisfy. Over the past two weeks or more both of the D610s Jenelle (she is an amazing photographer and worth checking out Jenelle Rideout Photography) and I have been using had died. So what better way to mourn the death of your beloved cameras then to join forces and buy one of the best cameras on the market (so they say)…fast forward a week and I still hadn’t had the chance to fully experience this marvel of technology.

There I sat..finger on the trigger waiting to capture pure magic with this beast. The wind was calm and the water on the wetland reflected the blue hour glow…then out of nowhere came the sound of the wind rushing through the wings of a Juv. Bald Eagle as it pasted overhead no more than 10 feet above me. That sound still gets my heart racing. The Eagle glided out over the water sending the waterfowl in the area to wing as it headed for a perch only feet from me. My heart raced..then..the dreaded itch..out of nowhere after being sat in the blind for a good 15 mins my nose started to itch..I tried the nose wiggle to get it to go away but no luck. I didn’t want to move out of fear of being noticed but the longer I waited the worse it got...as slow as a snail going up a steep hill I reached up to satisfy the itch.

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Moments later another Eagle appeared, and then another…each arrival identified by the celebrating sounds of the already landed Eagles. By now I realized I was successful in my camouflage as the Eagles made numerous passes over head without noticing me. One particular individual decided to come straight at me from the other side of the wetland and perch on a tree only a few feet above me…let’s just say that was a little nerving to have a Eagle coming straight at you.

As the sun finally cracked the horizon the Eagles began to play. Battling each other in the air, forcing one another off perches and playing cat/mouse with the local waterfowl. I sat in awe as I rarely get the chance to witness all these behaviors at close range. But I held my ground; I resisted the urge to attempt to photograph their aerial battles as I really wanted to capture images of the Eagles perched on the little nobs of grassy land that sat in the middle of the water.

I didn’t have to wait long as another Juv approached and it wasted no time, heading straight for the perch and landed right where I had hoped..finally..the trigger had been pressed. The sound of the shutter releasing was music to my ears and my heart raced as I looked down at the screen to see what I had captured.

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For the next two and a half hours I sat near motionless in my blind witnessing Juv. Bald Eagles drinking and bathing in the water. Unfortunately much of the action was obscured by foliage, trees or other debris so I only came away with a few good images but all in all I couldn’t have been more excited about the experience and the images I did capture.

Once the Eagles had enough fun and moved on so did I. I decided to make a quick stop in at a local lake called Virginia Lake where a pair of Northern Shovelers (uncommon to the island) had been spotted but they were nowhere to be found. I was however treated to the sights and sounds of a Gadwall (also uncommon to the island) who appears to have found the love of his life in a female Mallard. He has certainly taken a liking to her and anyone one that came near her was quickly targeted and scared away…it’s quite cute to be honest and not uncommon in the waterfowl world for various species to cross breed.

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It was a short outing with my new baby the Nikon D850 but I have to say I am very impressed. The amount of tact sharp images I returned with was way over the percentage I would have with my D610 and the detail in the feathers on the Gadwall at IS0640(I know that is not a high ISO test but still the images are so clean and detailed) it’s astonishing. I look forward to giving this camera some further testing and hopefully make a trip out to Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve to really test out the autofocusing system with the Northern Gannets.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog entry and feel free to comment below. Until next time happy clicking….