During the summer of 2014 I enjoyed a great opportunity to observe and document the development of a pair of juvenile Bald Eagles. I wasn't using the best equipment in optimal circumstances, and I'm in the early stages of my experience at nature photography. In other words, I'm not an eagle expert and these are not the pages of National Geographic. Instead, this is my story of the inspiration and joy I experienced over a period of months visiting my favorite location in the world, North Twin Lake, in northeastern Washington state. I hope by sharing my experience I will share some of that joy, and perhaps even inspire others not to allow perceived limitations prevent them from exploring their passion.
As I wrote in my earlier blog post on this topic, bald eagles are apparently early breeders: nest building or reinforcing is often by mid-February, egg laying is often late February (sometimes during deep snow in the North), and incubation is usually mid-March and early May. Eggs hatch from mid April to early May, and the young fledge late June to early July.
I first noticed the Twin Lakes eaglets during our memorial weekend visit at the end of May. I saw an adult bald eagle fly back to a nest that was a long distance from my location on the lake, but not so far that I couldn't see the adult tending to the nest (presumably feeding hatched eaglets). On my return to the lake during the July 4 holiday I saw a pair of eaglets standing on the edge of the nest. They never left the nest and I assume they were only days away from taking their first flight.
My true joy came during my visit to the lakes in early August. I always cruise the backside of North Twin Lake in the early morning when the lake is quiet and the wildlife is more active. On my very first day I was surprised to find one of the juvenile bald eagles perched on a fallen tree at the edge of the lake. I was lucky enough to maneuver my boat near the eagle's location without disturbing it. I was fortunate that the eagle was close enough that I could capture very acceptable images and video using my 250mm lens. I was shooting from the boat, often hand-held, so unfortunately there was always some movement. I returned to this general location over the next several days and always found the eagle in this area early in the morning. Over the days I had many opportunities to watch the eagle in its habitat, learn some of its habits, and capture a few nice still images and video.
Many times I located the eagle sitting on the branches of a fallen tree right at the shore of the lake.
One of the things I noticed was that the young eagle often stretched its wings and moved about the log more so then I've seen from adult eagles. I can only thank the eagle for the many great poses offered to me over the days.
In for a landingA juvenile bald eagle comes in to land on log at North Twin Lake in Inchelium, WA
Juvenile Bald EagleA juvenile bald eagle stretches his wings at North Twin Lake in Inchelium, WA
Juvenile Bald Eagle 2A juvenile bald eagle spreading his wings at North Twin Lake in Inchelium, WA
My favorite image from the days of observation; the eagle fully spread its wings and held the pose for me.
As a cap to the week of observation I edited together video clips of the eagle, including audio of its distinctive call, and footage of its graceful flight from the branches of a tree across the expanse of the lake.