Standing at the edge of Quidi Vidi Lake myself and fellow photographer Alex McInnis were discussing camera gear and settings. When about a 1 km down the lake I noticed a Bald Eagle heading towards the shoreline and then perch in a tree. Looking through my lens I noticed that where it had perched was a dead tree that I had notice sometime ago and imagined seeing an Eagle perched in it and how great a photo opportunity it would be.
In that moment a faint voice in my head said “Go, Go and try to photograph that Eagle”. I knew it would be a gamble as walking down the path to the tree I would be exposed and no way of hiding my approach. I was also reluctant to go as the light that morning was going to be perfect for waterfowl photograph which was the main reason I was there. But, as I have learned many times in the past when I hear that inner voice I should always listen to it as its usually right.
So off I went in my SUV down to the end of the road parked my vehicle, grabbed my camera and down the trail I went. As I walked I scanned the trees and dialed in my settings. As I approached the dead tree something below me caught my attention..I froze..
There below me was the juv. Bald Eagle on a kill. See, moments before noticing this Eagle head to the shoreline Alex and I spotted 11 Eagles on the lake. Many of the Eagles had taken off one by one and I assume this Juv. grabbed the kill and flew closer to shore to enjoy the rest of the meal.
I grabbed a record shot(seen above) and then slowly started to walk backwards making sure not to make eye contact with the Eagle. Like many species Juveniles dont have as much fear of humans so I knew that was on my side and also when a raptor is on a kill it tends to want to stay put and enjoy it.
With this knowledge I spotted a small opening between some trees. I got down on my butt and slowly shuffled down the small slope to the ice edge. I made sure to move slowly and I moved only when it was feeding.
Tall dry grass and a snow drift help conceal most of my movements. With one finally move I was now on the ice... and face to face with this impressive creature.
For what felt like forever we starred at each other..I dared not move at this critical moment. Any false move now would surely send this guy flying.
Before long it decided I was no threat and continued feeding.
At times it was as if the Eagle wanted to share its meal with me..lifting up sections of the Gull and showing them to me
First a foot…
Then a wing…
For 15 mins I laid on the ice watching Nature in its rawest form play out in front of me. Our moment was interrupted by the loud sounds of a walker on the trail above me with ice grips and hiking poles which sent the Eagle to the air.
To my surprise it made a short flight out over the lake only to return to the dead tree above the kill. At this point the rising sun was lighting up the clouds behind my subject which was still slightly shaded from the ridge to our right.
For the next few hours the Eagle sat preening and relaxing as many people walk passed it and enjoyed its presence. Of all my time around Eagles this was by far the most tame I have ever seen one.
All in all it was a great morning and a wonderful experience. It was also a great reminder to always listen to that inner voice and seize any moment that presents itself. If there is one thing I have learned over the years with photograph is that you will rarely ever get a second chance.
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