Eagle eyes

“C’mon open your eyes!” murmured the young wildlife photographer who had just arrived at the scene. The words hit me like a bucket of ice water. The eagle had its eyes shut?

My attention had obviously been focused elsewhere that early June day.

This was as close as I could get to the eagle’s nest.

Fifteen minutes earlier I had been trying to figure out where a black bear had disappeared after giving me some great opportunities. Standing at the lookout point at Medicine Lake, AB, I was scouring the shoreline when my concentration was suddenly interrupted. Jasper park staff pointed out the location of an eagle’s nest – a tiny speck in the distance. Great news!

All I could see through my lens was a tiny patch of white – a nest high up a tree collecting falling snow. The bear was gone so I drove up the road for a closer vantage point. I found an opening in the forest and located the nest with a barely recognizable eagle given the distance.

The snow continued to fall and I was starting to feel wet and worried about my increasingly damp gear. After a few photos that I knew would not make me particularly happy, I stopped to look around at the falling snow.

Suddenly I noticed an eagle standing high up on a much closer branch. Where did it come from? I quickly fired away while racking my brain for appropriate camera adjustments in dimly lit snow.

I was soon joined by a photographer who set up a tripod and threw a thick blanket over his lens, camera and head. Ingenious water protection! Then he mentioned the dreaded shut eyes.

I quickly zoomed in my last photo and saw nothing but eyelids. Why would an eagle shut its eyes while standing on a branch getting soaked from falling snow? Setting impractical philosophical questions aside, I focused on the eyes with my finger ready to fire.

It turns out an eagle with its eyes open makes a much better photo. Though if you click to enlarge, you will see it looks rather wet and bedraggled in the falling snow.

After the snow stopped, I returned to this spot just as the sun peaked out from behind the clouds towards evening, I found the eagle on the same branch. Could it have been there all day?

Latest Comments

  1. vanbraman says:

    Great pictures. I have always liked eagles. I get the National Geographic Eagle calendar every year. I am also an Eagle Scout. Thanks.


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