The Eagle Has Landed

Bald Eagle in the Tree

Last weekend, I’d read in a local Spokane publication that bald eagles winter in Idaho’s Lake Couer d’Alene in search of spawning Kokanee salmon. Sunday, we drove the short 30 minutes to the area and stopped at Higgins Point where the eagles are known to feed.

Armed with my Lumix camera, our dogs, and wearing warm winter coats on this cold, sunny day, we eagerly joined other eagle-watchers as we hiked along the trail, looking up and around for signs of the eagles.

After 45 minutes of seeing empty skies, we headed back to the main area. Suddenly some onlookers were cheering and clapping and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a gorgeous eagle soar just a few feet away, almost at eye-level.

Did I get the coveted close-up shot? Nope.

But I scurried and managed to capture him flying into the trees.

Bald Eagle in flight

Somewhat disappointed, I sat down with my hubby on a nearby park bench and I got the camera ready again. Looking down on the lake, I noticed other people looking up and my hubby said he could see one in the tree.

Sure enough, there he was, king of the lake.

Bald Eagle in the Tree

Looking up again, I saw another eagle soaring, this time the sun shining on his wings. Ever try to catch an eagle in flight with a 600-zoom lens? Dizzying to say the least. But I managed a few more shots.

Bald Eagle Soars over Lake Couer d' Aline

Did You Know?

The American bald eagle lives in North America including Canada, Alaska, and the contiguous U.S. In the wild, they can live up to 20 years! Their average weight ranges from 6-14 pounds with wingspans ranging from 6 to 7.5 feet.

A local said the kokanee salmon had already run their course for the winter, so our hope of seeing flocks of them feeding was dashed. Although we only saw a total of three eagles, it was three more than I have ever seen with my own eyes.

A good day for looking up!

Joining Lisa’s Bird Weekly (birds with long wingspans) and Becky B’s SquaresUp photo challenges.

Bitmoji Birding

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A Somewhat Transient Migration

Swallow fly in chaos around their nests.

Swallow fly in chaos around their nests.

Perhaps the famed migration of the Swallows from their winter home in Argentina to San Juan Capistrano isn’t as fleeting as the theme Transient suggests, but try taking photos of them near their nests and transience takes on a whole new meaning.

The nesting swallows flit back and forth so quickly that trying to capture one or several in a photo is a little ridiculous. Especially since I was precariously perched on the levee under the launch near where we windsurf. As soon as I dared step into their realm, they, and I mean hundreds of them, went flying, diving with acrobatic precision only the Flying Wallendas could execute!

In all 40 of my mostly failed images, I managed to highlight the nesting swallow (upper left corner of photo above) in most of the shots. I figured this was a nesting female patiently waiting for daddy bird to bring yummy treats to the nest.

You get the idea of the launch area in this photo.

Swallows flitting back and forth under their nesting home

It’s a good thing no one has bothered with these nests (as if they could)!

According to an article in the Orange County Register, swallows don’t return just to San Juan Capistrano – they also nest in San Clemente and other nearby communities, and local officials warn against messing with any active nests.

In fact, the California Department of Fish and Game considers Feb. 15 to Sept. 1 to be swallows nesting season.

“Completed nests during this breeding season cannot be touched without a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” the announcement said.

Birdwatching as a hobby is very rewarding. With a great camera, one can capture wonderful images of birds. In this case however, I only really discovered all these swallows because I took my stand-up paddleboard under the bridge and thoroughly disturbed them a few years ago. Sometimes fishermen will stand near here, causing the swallows to fly around in a ruckus!

The WordPress weekly photo challenge begins every Wednesday. Anyone can participate!

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