Well, it was my washout, not the actual Conowingo Dam being washed out. I was about two weeks too early to photograph the eagles according to the photographers that show up a few times a week.
I had a bit of a suspicion that eagles would be few because I follow Conowingo Dam on Facebook and the two weeks prior to me leaving for PA, photos of eagles were not being posted.
You might notice a lot of eagles shot from behind in this post. Just the luck of the draw I guess. They always don’t point where you want them too.
I knew there would be eagles, just not a hundred of them like last time on December 26th, 2014. See this post for how close the eagles were to photographers on that day. You can see hundreds of Cormorants above and just two eagles.
When there are so few eagles (about five to six at a time), they stay on the other side of the channel, too far for my lens. When they are plentiful, I get pretty close up shots. Otherwise, they are far away and I have to enlarge the resulting image.
Going down for the kill… the eagle below got lucky with an unfortunate fish.
If I post the actual full frame image without enlarging it, the eagle would be very tiny in the picture. You can see that full frame image below of two eagles and an osprey. The problem when they are this small in the image is focusing on the action. It becomes fortuitous if the subject is focused correctly. Many images are a bit soft, but considering the distance, the images are not too bad. I have a tendency to enlarge them more than I should too.
I arrived at the Dam about 9am and stayed to 3pm. The horn sounds at 2pm when they open the gates and the turbines start to spin. Eagles, osprey, herons, gulls, cormorants, black vultures and hawks hear the horn and come flying in for the stunned, flopping fish buffet. The turbines feed the channel with dazed fish. The raptors, sea birds and waders anxiously await.
Below the osprey got a fish and was being pursued by an eagle. As usual, the eagle wins the fish. I have a photo of the osprey dropping the fish (shown), and the eagle catching it mid-air, but both images were a bit blurry when enlarged. This image is a full frame image so you can see how far the eagles were in reality at 400mm. See the fish falling?
It really is hard to hand hold the long lens through all the action. Last time I mastered the panning. This year I was a bit rusty because the action happens within seconds and the eagles were further away.
The below image is an osprey in the morning, above around 2:30pm after the horn sounded.
Hawks were out and about since it is migration time for them. I was at Hawk Mountain for some of these images. At the top of a mountain, you get a view much closer when looking up to the sky as the hawks ride the wind currents.
The two images below of the hawk were taken the day before my trip to Conowingo. It was a dreary day when I arrived to Reading.
Since the eagle numbers were down during my visit, I am planning on going back in November when the eagles start arriving to pair up. I asked a photographer friend of mine to come along on the trip this time.
We are going to Presque Isle this weekend, so it will be interesting to see what I find there since migration will be nearing the end. I might only get colorful Fall leaves…
Nature and Wildlife Pics has the Cormorant eating an eel. I never saw that before.