Squamish Bald Eagles (Again) Jan13

Squamish Bald Eagles (Again)

This was my third time in Squamish to shoot Bald Eagles, and it will likely become an annual excursion.  Not only do I love Squamish and Brackendale, it is a great opportunity to practice wildlife photography with a photogenic subject.  Unlike my previous trip to the area when I visited in January, this time I came when the eagle concentrations were much higher.   There were several occasions when I saw up to eight eagles all trying to get one or two dead salmon, unsurprisingly some fights broke out.   As I was heading to a new location to begin my search for eagles, I saw an interesting log pincer thingy (correct name) and had to stop.  I managed to get a shot with my wide angle that included the Stawamus Chief in the background.   (As always, click to view larger.  You can also just scroll through all of the photos in a slideshow) Getting to the beach at the south end of Squamish was more fun than expected due to deep snow.  Once I arrived, there were no eagles to be seen but I did brave the elements to get this long exposure shot before I packed up and went searching for the elusive birds. First stop was near the SPCA.  Mount Garibaldi was looking majestic as usual so a quick shot was necessary. I did find a single juvenile bald eagle  Pretty sure he saw me. Also came across a Great Blue Heron Plenty of crows, which I used to practice my focus tracking for flying birds. A gang of seagulls. A few shy ducks. This is the reason the eagles are here in high concentrations, plenty of dead or dying salmon to eat.  Other bird species also enjoy the annual feast. Finally, in the most popular spot there were plenty of eagles.  These were all found off Government Road near the Watershed Grill restaurant. This one looking like he has found something interesting. As I said previously, fights were not uncommon though rarely seemed to result in any real damage.   I shot a LOT of photos to only get  a few worth keeping.  Not an easy subject to photograph. The seagulls don’t stick around to ask questions when they see the eagles coming in. Another fight sequence.   This guy wanted to make sure the young eagle knew who the boss was. And a few more shots.  It certainly won’t be my last time visiting the area.          ...

Harvest Moon 2016

On September 16, we had a full moon which was also our harvest moon.  The harvest moon is the full moon closest to the fall equinox (Sept. 22nd).  Since it was a beautiful clear night, I thought I would test out the Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 VR lens.  Here is the shot, which isn’t too bad for a relatively inexpensive lens (and Nikon...

Squamish Bald Eagles Jan13

Squamish Bald Eagles

I was eager to try out my new Nikon 200-500 f/5.6 VR lens that I received for Christmas from my lovely wife.  I knew that Bald Eagles were likely still in Squamish as I had been there previously.  I ventured out one very old morning to see what I could capture. The sun was rising as I pulled into Squamish and I noticed it was illuminating Mount Garibaldi.  I decided to see how the lens performs for a long distance landscape shot.  Nice detail despite the distance. The rig The shot I then walked around one of my favorite spots in south Squamish and did encounter a few eagles. One thing I realized is that I have a lot to learn about wildlife photography, especially birds. Learning how to use a telephoto lens has a fairly steep learning curve, and trying to capture birds in flight makes it even harder.  I took a lot of shots but only have a few keepers and even those I’m only mildly satisfied with.  Having said that, the combination certainly does help in comparison to shooting with my iPhone. Eagle shot with iPhone Same eagle with a Nikon D810 and Nikkor 200-500 f/5.6 VR lens.  Anyone claiming “gear doesn’t matter” hasn’t tried to shoot wild eagles. I relocated several times but had a hard time finding eagles.  I found out later that there are much higher concentrations of eagles in early December and by January they have started to depart as most of the salmon that they are feeding on are gone.  It was still a beautiful day so I made the most of it by shooting some landscape shots.  Even some with my iPhone. My trusty Tacoma, it never disappoints. This was actually a hand-held shot with the Nikkor 200-500 lens.  Shutter speed was relatively long but the VR system helped me get an acceptably sharp shot. After more driving around and looking in a few spots I have never visited before I did find a few more eagles.  Didn’t get the focus or composition right in all of the photos, but I did get a lot of practice in tracking eagles in flight. Finally, a comparison of iPhone vs Nikon.  See that moon in the top right? Now a little closer with the...