In case you don’t know me, or don’t know me well enough – I really like Bald Eagles. I believe they are big, majestic, beautiful birds and if you haven’t seen one in person, you are missing out. So naturally, I’ve always wanted to photograph one. I’ve seen a few in the area where I live, but I’ve never been able to get close enough for a good photo.
I’ve heard a National Wildlife Refuge that is kinda nearby has Bald Eagles. However ever time I have gone over there (2 hour drive away), I’ve never seen one with the exception of one or two at a great distance. So a little research later, I find that the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges are one of the largest wintering grounds for Bald Eagles. This refuge is comprised of two separate but closely adjoining refuges – Tulelake NWR and Lower Klamath NWR. The trick is, they are mostly seen in the area in large numbers during January and February.
So for the past three years, I’ve been driving over there trying to get photos of these majestic birds. I have found some Bald Eagles on my journeys, but either they are not close enough for a good photo or the weather is terrible which doesn’t help for a good photo – remember we are talking about winter months and this area is not very warm and usually windy.
Well it seems persistence pays off. After a terrible year locating eagles last year, this year has been really good. The last two times I’ve traveled over there this winter, I have seen 15-25 Bald Eagles each trip. That doesn’t mean they are all close enough for good photographs (even with a big lens), but at least they are there. What I have experienced though is interesting. The eagles are either very ‘shy’ and won’t let you get even close to them before flying away from you – or they sit on their perch (usually an old power pole placed for them to perch on) and don’t give you much mind. They do keep their eyes on you though just in case.
I know what you are probably thinking, if they fly away there is a great opportunity for a photo with the bird in flight. Not typically so, considering they fly ‘away’ from you. So all you see is their backside as they fly. This year I did experience another first though. Once I was able to get close enough for a decent photograph a couple of eagles actually flew in toward me. Naturally I took every advantage to try and photograph this with some successes. Out of the hundreds of photographs I was able to take, I was lucky enough to get a few that turned out great. I am a very happy photographer!
Be sure to check out my Flickr page for additional eagle photos.