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Posts Tagged ‘Bald Eagle’

I spent last weekend in the wonderful little town of Bolinas, CA. This special spot on the California Coast a relatively short drive north of San Francisco is a quite and quirky and very laid back. It is also right on the shore of the Pacific Ocean and Bolinas Lagoon and as such it provides access to a bunch of coastal and aquatic habitats, and I took advantage of this positioning to do a lot of birding!

Wildlife photographer captures osprey carrying shark, carrying fish in  'one-in-a-trillion photograph' | Fox News
Osprey carrying a fish. Photo Credit: Fox News

One morning, I went out to the beach to see what coastal and ocean birds I might spot and to do a bit of beach combing while I was at it. The sky was gray over the ocean, but not foggy. The tide was low and it was fun to spend a little time looking at washed up kelp, finding Sand Crabs as the waves broke on the shore, and looking out to sea at the rolling ocean. I was also enjoying watching the Western Grebes and Clark’s Grebes fishing off shore, the Double-crested Cormorants flying back and forth, and the Brown Pelicans cruising above the waves when I heard a bit of a commotion overhead. I looked up to see three birds chasing each other around in a mid-air tangle. One bird was an Osprey with a fish in its talons. The second bird was an adult Western Gull trying to steal that fish. The third bird was an adult Bald Eagle also trying to rob the Osprey! All three birds were engaged in some fancy flying over the waves as they attempted to secure their breakfast as the sun rose above the tree topped hills.

Sound Library - Bald Eagle - Yellowstone National Park (U.S. National Park  Service)
Adult Bald Eagle. Photo Credit: National Park Service

The tangle of birds did not last long. The Osprey was ultimately successful at defending its catch from the two would-be thieves and flew off to enjoy its meal. The gull quickly disappeared to forage elsewhere, but the eagle stuck around for a little while. It circled out over the Pacific for a couple of minutes, and watching for so long was a real treat for me. It then turned toward shore, dropped altitude, and flew along the beach. As it spread its huge wings about 50 feet over the sand, it flew slowly over beach goers and surfers. None of whom noticed at all! The humans were all absorbed in their own activities and did not realize that an enormous, not to mention iconic, bird was cursing right over their heads. I suppose that I should not have been surprised by this lack notice, and to a certain extent I wasn’t, but it was definitely amusing.

The Bald Eagle continued flying smoothly down the beach until it followed the bending line of the sand around a bluff and out of sight, and I continued my morning of beach exploration. It was a lovely morning that I enjoyed very much, and I hope you get out for some time on the coast as well.

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My wife, young daughter, and I just got back from a road trip up to Seattle, WA with a stop in Ashland, OR on the way back. As we drove and drove, we had the good fortune to see eagles on a number of occasions and they were especially spectacular in the behaviors we got to witness.

Our first eagle encounter was just as we drove past Ashland, OR on our way north. My wife spotted two birds that seemed to be struggling, mid-air. They were two Golden Eagles, and as we watched they opened their wings and began to spiral downwards, feet locked together in a talon grapple! The drop was spectacular as they spun around each other and plummeted towards the earth. As we drove closer, they came to the end of the fall and let go of each other. Both huge, adult birds then flew right over our car.

After our visit in Seattle, we decided to hit the road quite early. This meant that I was driving south on I-5 as dawn was spreading her rose-red fingers across the sky. As the day brightened in central western Washington, I got to watch several Bald Eagles fishing in the various waterways we passed over. It was a truly beautiful sight with the morning light just touching the tree tops and these large, dark birds circling over the sky-reflecting water and dropping low to strafe the surface for fish.

Our final eagle encounter was back in the Ashland area. We took a side trip out to the little town of Jacksonville and on our way back stopped at a gas station. As we waited by the pump, a Golden Eagle started circling overhead. It was a very nice look, as the bird was not too high and there were no trees blocking our view. The sight got even better when the eagle climbed in altitude and then began a series of dramatic pendulum flights! Pendulum flights are where the bird flies in a number of roller-coaster-like arching dives, one right after another. At the top of each arch, the eagle would close its wings and dive, picking up speed. At the bottom of the dive, it opened its wings and used its momentum to coast up to the top of the next dive. A wonderful show, indeed!

So, for eagle watching, I would highly recommend the I-5 corridor! We certainly had a great trip!

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