A Convocation of eagles                                                

 

 

I have always liked eagles.

I grew up in Salt Lake City Utah where the state bird was the California gull. There were seagulls everywhere and one couldn’t go anywhere without lots of them overhead. We affectionately called them “Mormon Bombers”. But eagles weren’t all that common and there were only I few times that I can remember ever seeing an eagle near the city, and on those rare occasions they were high and off in the distance. At that time one had to be somewhere high in the mountains that circle Salt Lake City, and even then, spotting one wasn’t that common.

I lived in many places, but until moving to British Columbia my eagle sightings were a rarity. Imagine my excitement I when found that no matter where one lives in the province I came to call home there seemed to always be eagles. Gosh, go to any fishing town and the skies and wharfs will be crowded with eagles.

Where I live, spring, summer or fall, and even sometimes in the frozen winter, while on my 45-minute drive to Kamloops along the Thompson River there are eagles watching from the trees.

This spring the water has been unusually high in the small streams and lakes in the countryside around Kamloops, and now that the rains have ceased and the drying summer heat is here, the once flooded farmlands, lakes, and meandering streams have trapped fish.

All one has to do is drive up into the farmlands out of town, pull the car over, wait a bit and there will be eagles. Until I stopped I hadn’t noticed how many were sitting on fence posts and in the trees along the road taking turns eating hapless fish caught in shallow creeks along the road.

They were spooky, eagles usually are. I pulled over and waited as other people excitedly stood by their cars pointing, talking loudly, and holding their cellphones at arms length to snap pictures of the many eagles flapping low to the ground and eating.

I positioned my car so I could open the door with my beanbag lens rest on the window ledge. I knelt comfortably, put my 150-600 on the bag and drank my coffee as I waited for the big birds to calm down and return after all the cellphone photographers left.

And return they did. I have seen larger convocations of eagles (yes. That’s the right word, “convocation”) when I visited towns on the coast, but that many eagles sitting, eating and flying around a few feet off the ground so darn close to a busy road was a bit unusual.

I haven’t had my big zoom lens very long, so this was my first experience using it to photograph flying birds. It took me a few shots to get comfortable with all the movement. There was a lot of commotion around one big trout, with several adults and youngsters demanding their turn. Nevertheless, the eagles were easy to photograph, their movements are slow and predictable. That excited gathering ignored my big lens poking over the car door, and they only flew off when another car stopped and people got out. When that happened I just relaxed, had another drink of coffee, and waited till I could start taking pictures again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 responses to “A Convocation of eagles                                                

  1. Fantastic images, John. How lucky to see so many of these incredible birds together. The only time I’ve seen a convocation like this was in Alaska. I love the shot of the eagle devouring the fish.

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  2. Some beautiful eagle shots there and a good descriptive article! Do tell more about the beanbag lens rest and the 150-600 lens. I’d never heard of such a lens rest till now and am fascinated to hear experiences of them – ease of use? Limitations? And that lens – big, heavy, loud, battery drain? Pros ‘n’ cons?

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    • Hi Steeny, I am glad you liked my eagle pictures and my article. Thanks.
      You can read about the camera beanbag rest in my June second article, “An excellent tool for a roadside photographer”. Regarding the Tamron 150-600 lens I am using. These super zooms have been around for many years. Both Tamron and Sigma have had several very successful models. (Canon and Nikon have theirs also) for years the Sigma 50-500 and 150-500 have been really popular. Both Tamron & Sigma have released several versions, the Sigma 150-600mm sport, and the Tamron 150-500 G. The are both big and about 4+ lbs. very quiet & quick focusing. I suppose there is battery drain, but I just charge my camera battery at day’s end anyway. The serious bird photographers will prefer fixed focal length lenses that will, of course, focus faster and are sharper. I prefer zoom lenses because they are more versatile. Both the Tamron-G and the Sigma-sport are excellent lenses.

      Like

  3. Wow! I’m jealous of your awesome Eagle Images! That telephoto/beanbag combo is really working out for you! We have lots of eagles in Chilliwack, but haven’t had many opportunities to get close enough even with 280mm.

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    • Thanks, I am glad ya liked my eagle pics. Yes the new beanbag is much better than the small one my wife and I used for years.
      I don’t know how far the eagles are away in your neighbourhood Michael. But even when my wife used to photo ’em from the car we needed longer than 300mm. We used a Sigma 50-500 and then traded up to the one I have now, the Tamron 150-600. The 150-500 was fine with when we had cropped sensors, but I moved us to full frame and full frame demanded 600mm.

      Liked by 1 person

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