It was a chilly morning with a stiff wind. Penny and I were headed down the closed-off road to the Wrightsville Reservoir rec area to check for waterfowl and get some exercise. Lugging my scope over my shoulder and binoculars and camera from my neck, I felt like a pack mule while the dog ran here and there. There’s no one around this time of year so it’s a great place for us – and only a mile from home.
My hands were freezing in the thin gloves — I realized that the hand warmers, guaranteed for 10 hours, were last year’s supply and had lost their pizzaz. I didn’t even get 10 minutes.
As I carefully approached the water, I set up in the woods and immediately saw a Great Blue Heron fishing on the far bank. The water was roiling and the wind was tough, so I headed down on the loop we often take, planning to keep it a short one.
I saw some movement — a large bird flying — and thought that the heron had flushed. Then, in my binoculars, I saw that it was a Bald Eagle, being harassed by crows. I fumbled for the camera, turned it on, set the dial for action shots, and with frosty fingers, took a few shots.
The trio circled above us, whipped by the winds and disappearing now and then over the tree line. I fired away but in situations like this, I find out that I am a birder who carries a camera, not a photographer who happens to bird. Here are a couple of highly cropped shots:
It was only a show of several minutes but exciting — Bald Eagles are scarce enough in the area (I saw one other last February) that they are a treat for a birder.
We struck out on waterfowl and the wind had driven all the sparrows and friends deep into cover so we cut it short, but I for one didn’t feel cheated. As an aviator, to see the eagle gracefully soaring on flat wings ignoring the dive-bombing of the crows was fun and worth a few white fingers.