Bald Eagles at Big Beef Creek

Photographers go to Big Beef Creek this time of year to get shots of Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons. I’ve been there twice so far and have managed to get a few nice shots of Bald Eagles, but so far there seem to have been far fewer Bald Eagles than in previous years. On our last visit I didn’t see a single juvenile Bald Eagle and only saw five or six mature Bald Eagles.

Most of the shots I got were of this pair of Bald Eagles

who showed up early and stuck around only long enough to fill themselves up.

This eagle caught its own fish rather than stealing it from the Great Blue Herons.

I use the word "caught" cautiously, though, because the sculpin was stranded in shallow water and the eagle swooped down and swept it up.

It was a still a thrill to have it swoop so close in front of me that I could see the mud on his tail feathers.

The only other sequence I caught was this one of a Bald Eagle flying almost straight at me

before veering off to my right and flying over my shoulder.

Though I liked these shots I was disappointed at how few Bald Eagles there seem to be, and particularly that there didn’t seem to be a sing juvenile eagle. The older Bald Eagles have learned to get food with the least fuss whether by harassing a Great Blue Heron into dropping a fish or just picking a stranded one off the beach. Immature Bald Eagles, on the other hand, seem to enjoy harassing the older eagles or harassing the herons simply to be harassing them. Like human teenagers they crave action, just like wildlife photographers.

Bald Eagle Catching Fish

I’ll have to admit I have so many shots of Eagles sitting in the trees around Big Beef Creek that I usually ignore them after they’ve landed, but I was bored enough at the beginning of this visit that I took several shots and got the chance to see this Bald Eagle swoop down and pick up a fish.

The sun even peeked through the clouds long enough to provide some excellent light for the short time this took.

Anticipation

After our trip to Bottle Beach, I decided I needed to check out Big Beef Creek near Seabeck to see if the sculpin run had begun. Since the run is tide-dependent, I checked when high tide was and thought I would need to be there around 6:00 A.M. When I got there, clouds covered the sky, and the sun was having a hard time breaking through. In other words, the lighting sucked.

I still couldn’t resist taking photos of the Great Blue Herons who lined the shore who seemed as eager as I was for the action to begin.

I always get some of my closest shots of the day in these early hours before the tide goes out very far

because the herons were right below me at the mouth of the creek.

Once the Great Blue Herons start fishing, Bald Eagles fly in to see if they can steal a meal.

Occasionally the sun broke through the clouds, providing some of that early morning glow that can make pictures really snap.

I have a bad habit of always arriving long before I need to and I’m working on overcoming that, but being the first one there isn’t ALWAYS a bad thing.