Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Eagles

A special highlight we have enjoyed here at Bayside RV Park are the daily eagle feedings by the RV Park's owner.  He has a special permit to feed these eagles frozen herring.  Once the herring and salmon migrate to the waters of  Prince William Sound and the Port of Valdez (usually the 3rd or 4th week in June), the eagles will stop eating his thawed herring and go for the fresh, still swimming fish.  Here are some of my favorite photographs from this visually thrilling experience.  Ronnie and I both agreed, we never got tired of watching these beautiful birds fly and swoop down to catch the fish Rick threw up in the air.

I have no idea how many photographs I made of these gorgeous birds feeding in the campground.  I tried to only take pictures on sunny days and on the cloudy days I would just relax and enjoy the experience.  On the rainy days, Ronnie and I would watch the feedings from inside our motorhome, we could see all of this through the front windshield.  Little Boy would watch too!  After watching everyday for about 2 weeks, we began to notice a few interesting details.  Some eagles were bigger than others, one eagle knew if it just rested in the weeds, Rick (RV Park Owner) would toss it a few fish and it didn't have to fly for the food or it could collect fish that others missed that fell to the ground, one eagle seemed to always chirp and a few of them would tussle in air for the fish. One day Rick missed a feeding and the eagles flew around in circles over the campground waiting for him. The next day, only 2 or 3 birds showed up to get free fish, maybe they were mad??  On the rainy days maybe 10 or so would show up for the free fish however on the sunny days I counted as many as 15 eagles or more. Amazingly when these birds flew down to catch the fish he threw up, you could hear the "woosh" sound of their huge wings and feel the breeze as they flew close at 20 or so feet from the crowd. And when I walked Little Boy on his harness and leash, I had him on a short cord, kept close.  Rick warns folks at the beginning of his program, that Bald Eagles have been known to swoop down on small pets.

Here are some Bald Eagle facts: female eagles are larger than the males, (yep, we noticed a couple were a little bigger than the others) their wing span can be up to 7.5 feet and weigh from 8 to 14 pounds.  The primary difference between the male and female eagle is their size.  The female eagle tends mostly to the nest and incubates the eggs, thus she needs to be bigger to cover more space, while the male does most of the hunting.  We have discovered one eagle nest over on Alison Point (the other side of the bay of Valdez Port) but it is so high up in the trees, we cannot get a good glimpse to check if there are eaglets or an eagle sitting on the nest.  To learn more about the Bald Eagle found here in Alaska, click here.

Here are a few more photographs that stand out as my favorites.  I used a telephoto lens with my camera to capture a close up and then cropped the picture a bit.  Next, I adjusted the photo's exposure to get a clearer picture.

There were 2 eagles in the feedings that had different colorations.  These are juvenile birds.

 My photographic goal was to capture the eagle catching a herring in flight.

 ..and to achieve that, I took wayyy to many pictures.  But, it was fun to me and sometimes to get the right shot, I had to take a lot of fast photos.

Notice the size of the eagle's claws.

 This is our "lazy" bird, choosing to just wait patiently for food to drop from the sky or get it tossed to him.

Our view of the eagle feedings from the inside the motorhome.  The program is being held in front of that first row of other motorhomes.

Close ups..

Could this be where the phrase "I've got my eagle eye on you." comes from?

We are enjoying our time in Valdez but this just has to be the highlight.  To see these Bald Eagles in flight, flying so close you can hear the sound of their wings, to also view them catch fish in mid air and then eat it is something you don't get tired of seeing..or ever forget.

More Later.

1 comment:

  1. Playing catch-up on your posts :) What an amazing journey you are having! It may be hard to match this one. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! (I'm enjoying vicariously :))