Cathy and I took a walk this morning with one of the dogs. We went up a trail along the west bank of Lemon Creek until the trail petered out. If the water wasn’t quite so high we’d have been able to continue but as it was, we had to turn around. We decided to go look for some eagles and we sort of hit the jackpot today.
I’ll be honest, as majestic as bald eagles ((Haliaeetus leucocephalus), they are basically scavengers. Sure, they will catch live fish and that’s beautiful to watch. But they will also eat dead and dying salmon that are running up the streams to spawn. When the salmon are running, eagles are easy to find around the mouths of those streams. However, we are a bit early for salmon, so the best place to find eagles right now is at and around the city dump.
There’s a gas station on Glacier Highway in Lemon Creek, next to the Western Auto and Marine store. At the back of the parking lot behind that gas station is a tall mound of dirt with weeds growing on it. Just beyond that is a line of trees, separating the parking lot from the landfill. The top of that mound of dirt is an excellent vantage for seeing eagles this time of year (or probably any time, be especially when the salmon are not so plentiful).
Taking pictures of birds on the wing is difficult with my huge, 150-600mm zoom lens. That’s especially true when it’s zoomed all the way out. Just finding a moving bird in the viewfinder is hard enough, but then getting it focused and the shutter fired before the bird has moved too far away or is seen only from behind is even more difficult. That being said, I’m quite pleased with a few of the shots I got of eagles flying. The first and last of the photos here are examples.
The second shot is of two trees across Glacier Highway with a total of ten birds in them. The third photo is of an eagle perched on the corner of a building. This bird let me get quite close, which surprised me a bit. I guess he knew he could get away before I could get to the top of the building. Anyway, while bald eagles are not at all rare in Juneau and the locals get fairly blasé about them, and even though we have a nesting pair within a mile of our house in Maryland, we’re still excited to see them.