Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sit and Wait - Bald Eagle Edition

Once again the "Spring" weather was completely uncooperative and the temperatures were quite cold with a biting wind coming from the North.  I have no problem spending a few hours waiting around for the nesting Bald Eagles to "do something" but the fact that it's almost April and there was snow (!!) on the ground made it a little less enjoyable.

When we arrived we spotted the Eagle a long ways off from where we were on the trail.  I checked on the bridge trail which leads to the island the bird is on and found a sign informing visitors that the trail is closed temporarily due to nesting bald eagles.  This was a real sign of relief due to the fact that last weekend a photographer spent a lot of time practically under the nest spooking the birds - then lamenting that he was surprised the bird took off every time he got near it.  Well, at least the Baldies won't have to worry about that - and a big thank you to a few of my friends who made the calls to make it happen.

While sitting around hoping the Eagle would do something of interest - we saw a few Mute Swans fight (related: NYSDEC updates Mute Swan Management Plan), listened to the incessant rattle of the Belted Kingfisher (this one was a male) and saw a few species of ducks zing by.  When we decided to leave - the Eagle had put up and disappeared but as we travelled down the Trail my wife thought to look around one last time to see if she could find it (She's much better at this type of thing than me) and sure enough it was a few hundred yards away from the original perch.  I went to show a friend of mine who had shown up the new location and after awhile some Osprey appeared - soaring well above the island and I knew that the Bald Eagle wouldn't be having it.

A short bit later the Eagle took off and flew back toward the nest, settling on a perch in order to defend his (her?) efforts against the pesky Osprey.  It was a short-lived tiff (unlike last weekends) but was fun to watch none-the-less.

Later in the afternoon I stopped by "Swan River Preserve" in East Patchogue to see if there were any ducks of interest on the pond as I had some past success with a male Bufflehead.  There were a few mallards and some Gadwall - but overall it was quite quiet.  I really hoped to get a shot of the Gadwall taking off (as they shoot up vertically, much like mallards) but JUST missed after waiting for the moment to strike (a nearby dog was sure to spook the bird).  After this I headed to Bellport Docks which has had some nice wintering waterfowl and would be a nice haven for birds with the wind out of the north - but aside from a red-necked grebe and some far off Buffleheads (or Bufflebutts as I like to call them) it was dead quiet.  Another stop yielded nothing but a frustrating Harrier and it was time to call it - but overall I was really happy to photograph Eagles once again. Next weekend (weather permitting!) I hope to checkout another nest (that will likely also be very far away) nearby (and whose location I would be more comfortable posting on this blog).

If you are interested in learning more about wildlife on Long Island and seeing beautiful images of what this Island has to offer (including many by me) - checkout this book by Naturalist John Turner:  

Here's a video of the Bald Eagle just hanging out (no volume).  You can see some "waves" distorting the image - this is from atmospheric haze caused by the heat moving the air which is magnified by the extreme focal length used.   


  1. I have pictures of a bald eagle on long island. How do I send them?

  2. I have pictures of a bald eagle on long island. How do I send them?