Before my trip, I visualized a picture-perfect day for photos of the hundreds of eagles diving, fighting, and soaring the blue skies. To my delight, I was rewarded. Sometimes it pays to dream…
The best time to see many eagles is right around Thanksgiving. Peak season is supposed to diminish around Christmas, but not when I visited after Christmas this year. Eagles were plentiful and happy to perform.
Eagles start pairing up at the end of December and I saw a few happy couples. What most photographers come for is the fast action feeding of the big birds.
I have seen them feeding before, but not close enough or often enough for photos. In Conowingo, they are bulking up for their long journey to nesting places like I visit here at home. Plus the immature eagles are learning how to fish and a growing eagle needs lots of protein.
I was thoroughly amazed at the amount of wildlife at this dam. There were so many gulls and herons. If you get a chance to see this one day, you will be enchanted and captivated by what you see.
There is Good and Bad
On a previous post, a comment alluded to the environmental impact of damming a river such as the Susquehanna. The company owning this dam has earned awards for their environmental sensitivity and acting as a pollution gate, yet the Chesapeake Bay Program still has issues with the dam trapping sediments.
Across this six-state watershed, nutrient pollution from farms, sewage treatment plants and urban/suburban runoff is and always was a hazard to the Chesapeake Bay. Conowingo and the two other hydroelectric dams along the Susquehanna have been sheltering the bay from pollution for many years. They capture the sediment as it settles to the bottom of the reservoirs. This is where the long-term dilemma arises. Violent natural storms and continual sediment buildup have to give way at some point.
But the bigger problem is the source of the runoff, not a dam the catches it, no? The problem is very complicated and has ecological effects that are far-reaching.
Dredging the sediments at the dams has cleaned the water only minimally I have read, and electrical generating plants and big agriculture are a necessary evil as people continue to overpopulate this earth.
Migratory fish like the American Shad are stopped at the dam, since dams block migratory fish from their spawning sites. I was told by local residents that the fish are netted and airlifted over the dam. I did not get further explanation to this, but it does seem a viable solution for fish migration.
Will it be the environment or us someday? I wonder if the fish lived to tell its tale?
See Nature and Wildlife Pics Photographing Eagles at Conowingo Dam for information and a nice sequence of action. I explain something you have seen in this post, how I get this sequence of action from bird descent, to fish capture through the chase.