Where Was I, Now?

Leslie and I just got back from a week-long birding trip to Malheur and Bear River, and I’m finding it tough to get back to blogging. (If you commented on this site last week I didn’t reply because I didn’t have internet access.)

Luckily, I had blog entries to refer back to. As I noted before, the lighting was less than ideal for my first trip to Big Beef Creek, but I still loved this sequence of two immature Bald Eagles chasing each other enough to post it here. Truthfully, I'm not sure it would’ve been better even with ideal lighting because the circling Eagles would’ve been in the shade part of the time no matter where the Sun was. Still, photographing two birds as they swoop and dive while chasing each other is too much of a challenge for me to resist. Hopefully, this series of photos conveys some of the excitement I felt while watching them.

It’s difficult to capture the beginning of a chase like this with so many eagles flying back-and-forth. But this is where I picked it up.

Chase1

More often than not, though, when two birds get this close together

Chase2

you know they’re interacting — though it’s not always clear whether they’re flirting or simply trying to intimidate each other.

When they’ve circled this closely together, the chase is definitely on.

Chase3

Then all you have to worry about is keeping both of the birds in focus, not an easy thing to do with a telephoto lens,

Chase4

though it’s easier when they’re as close as this.

Chase5

When the lower eagle looked back like this, I wondered if they would lock talons, a common courtship ritual.

If one of the birds was courting the other, it obviously failed because they never locked talons.

Chase6

I really didn’t see the fish showing in this shot

Chase7

until I started processing them on my computer. After seeing the fish it seems one eagle was simply trying to steal the other’s catch and the victim was having none of it.

I was amazed by the eagles’ maneuverability.

Chase8

I would have thought that the action would have stopped when one of the eagles caught the fish as it was falling,

Chase9

but the action got even more intense in the moments afterwards.

Chase10

It even continued into the nearby trees, though it appeared from my viewpoint that the two were in imminent danger of crashing headlong into the trees.

Chase11

I’m still unsure of why the eagles were acting this way. It would have been a lot easier for the eagle pursuing the other eagle to have simply used his energy to steal a fish from one of the many herons — which is what other eagles generally do who don’t want to bother catching their own. With fish simply lying on the beach as the tide moves out, this kind of violence to steal a small fish seems nearly incomprehensible.

One thought on “Where Was I, Now?

  1. Wow! What a stunning sequence of photos. I am surprised too that they would engage like this over such a small fish. Maybe they just really enjoyed the battle, even more than the promise of a small meal.

What do you think?