A plethora of eagles

A plethora of bald eagles today down near Boundary Bay. The light wasn’t great but I took a tonne of photos anyway. Of course, most didn’t work out but this sequence of an adult coming in to land isn’t too bad. The fifth photo is blurry but I’ve included it just because it was amazing to watch the eagles interact, squabbling and scuffling over perches and morsels. For such large birds they fly remarkably quietly and don’t seem to mind crashing through branches to chase off a rival. The last photo is one of my favourites: a juvenile perched in a tree barely 10 feet above me! I was surprised at how tolerant they seemed to be of all the people (and their many dogs too).

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A plethora of bald eagles today down near Boundary Bay. The light wasn't great but I took a tonne of photos anyway. Of course, most didn't work out but this sequence of an adult coming in to land isn't too bad. The fifth photo is blurry but I've included it just because it was amazing to watch the eagles interact, squabbling and scuffling over perches and morsels. For such large birds they fly remarkably quietly and don't seem to mind crashing through branches to chase off a rival. The last photo is one of my favourites: a juvenile perched in a tree barely 10 feet above me! I was surprised at how tolerant they seemed to be of all the people (and their many dogs too). #boundarybay #baldeagle #haliaeetusleucocephalus

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While I enjoy heading up to Squamish to watch them near Brackendale, I was inspired to go looking for eagles in the opposite direction by an Instagram friend’s post a few days ago. I’ve seen them up close on the dykes at Boundary Bay in the past and I thought it would be a good excuse to go try out the new camera and see how well it performs.

The answer is, well, it depends. Most of my photos were not sharp, some not even really in focus. But the light level was low and I’m still pretty new to the camera, so I’m giving it and myself the benefit of the doubt at this stage. Still, I’m not entirely convinced it comes close to the SLR in terms of focussing on what I want to be in focus but it may just be that I didn’t have the camera on its best settings. Photographing birds in flight is one of the hardest things to get right in photography and I certainly don’t have a great deal of experience.

I had plenty of eagles to choose from, perhaps too many as it was hard to know where best to stand or look with as many as 80-100 eagles either flying around or perched in nearby trees. Sometimes I just had to stand and watch.

Without doubt the sequence of four images of the adult eagle landing in a tree are my favourite, and they’ve turned out fairly well. For once I had enough time to identify and track an eagle as it approached the tree, firing off bursts of shots as it got closer. I was able to quickly learn enough about Canon’s raw processor (DxO PhotoLab still does not support the CR3 file format) to make some adjustments and set the white balance to my liking before uploading them. They’re not pin-sharp but they’re good enough for Instagram.

Getting the last image of the juvenile on a branch so close to me was an amazing experience. Eventually I even gave up taking photos at all and just watched as it picked away at the moss. We locked eyes a few times, which was quite an unnerving experience and made me glad I was not a vole or a fish.

Finally, I had to include one shot that came closest to capturing the aerobatic displays. On several occasions they flew barely 15-feet overhead, one such time while I was in the car! They felt so close! To see such large birds in motion and manoeuvring as tightly as they did was simply wonderful. Catching them in flight is something I would love to go back and try again on a sunnier day.

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