Well, we landed in Juneau after a long day of flights and layovers in Los Angeles and Seattle. We slept well and didn’t worry about getting up early (although I woke up at 7:00 anyway). We took a walk with the dogs in Lemon Creek, where Dorothy is living with our good friends, Brian and Lisa. The dogs, Kippen and Ayla, are border collies and are a lot of fun. The walk in Lemon Creek is surprisingly pretty for something so close to their house and it was nice to get out. The air was cool and it was raining very lightly but we knew what to expect and were ready for it. I got one photo with three bald eagles in it but I think this one is better. You can see the one at the top of the tree pretty easily but there is a second that’s not quite so obvious a little ways down on the right side of the same tree.
Tagged With: Haliaeetus
We had some out of town guest this weekend but they were here mostly to do the D.C. tourist thing. Late this morning the headed downtown to hit the museums and Cathy and I decided to go to the C&O Canal, walking northwest from Pennyfield Lock. It was a beautiful day, warmer than I prefer but only by a little. In the shade and particularly when there was a breeze it was lovely. We saw lots of painted turtles (Chrysemys picta), a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) and quite a few wildflowers. For today’s post I’m putting up two photos. The first is an ailanthus webworm moth (Atteva aurea) on a sunflower (Helianthus) of some sort. The larvae live in communal webs on their host trees. Interestingly, while they are thought to be native to South Florida, the ailanthus for which they are named (Ailanthus altissima, Tree of Heaven), is native to Northern China. It is believed that their original larval host was the paradise tree (Simarouba glauca) and Simarouba amara. It started moving north around the 1850s when introduced Ailanthus altissima contacted the moth’s native range.
The second photo is, as you have probably surmised, a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Cathy had walked a little further along and I waited in the shade at a pretty spot to take a few photos of the wildflowers there. While I was waiting for her to return I looked up and saw the eagle. I was able to point him out to a few others walking or biking on the canal but it was gone before Cathy returned. This isn’t the sharpest photo but it’s pretty clear what it is. The dark spot in the lower right is another bird. There were quite a few, flying fairly high in the sky.
Cathy and I took a walk to Lake Frank this afternoon. We walked along the shore of the lake towards the northeast end. We saw a belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), which was nice. Then we rounded the point and had a good look at the bald eagle’s nest, which you can see in the trees here. As we were looking, one of the adult bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) flew off the nest and I was able to get a reasonable photo. We see these birds reasonably often and it’s good to be reminded of how big, majestic, and beautiful they are. We’re really privileged to have this pair nesting here year after year.
It’s been a good year for bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) sightings. A little under a month ago (see Sunday, February 27, 2022) I got a photo of one of the nesting eagles flying over the nest. Today one of them flew right over our heads and then landed in a tree on our side of Lake Frank. I wasn’t able to get an unimpeded view but I was able to get relatively close. I’d still be happy to have a longer lens but I think this is pretty nice. Of course we’d see these on a daily basis in Juneau, but around hear, this sort of sighting is still somewhat rare and exciting.
We walked in the park around Lake Frank today, hoping to get a glimpse of one of our resident bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). There wasn’t anything visible in the nest but as we continued we met a man walking the other way who said that if we continued along to a particular spot and turned to face away from the lake we might see one near the top of the tallest tree in the area. Sure enough, when we got there, the bird was perched where the man had said. Being very high in the tree I could only get a view looking sharply upwards. It was also difficult to find a view that wasn’t obscured by branches. Still, I think this one does the eagle justice.
Cathy and I decided to go to Meadowside for a walk this afternoon. We walked back along the entrance road because we heard a barred owl (Strix varia) hoot. We didn’t find it and it stopped calling. I got a few photos of a northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) and then we walked down to the creak and back downstream to where the eagle’s nest is. One of the adult bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was perched on a tree near the nest and I got quite a few photos of it, although they were at a fairly steep angle up, so not as good as I’d like. Still, it’s nice to have a bald eagle in our neighborhood.
After breakfast and some time writing in my journal this morning I decided to see if I could get some pictures of eagles. I know the people living in Juneau are so used to them that they don’t even notice them much of the time. We have a pair nesting less than a mile from our house (as the eagle flies) but we’re still excited to see them. When trying to decide what to bring on this trip, I was determined to bring my new 150-600mm zoom lens. I had to rearrange my camera bag and leave a few other things out, but I’m glad I brought it. Today was my first opportunity to get a really good view. There was a large dirt pile, probably 25 or 30 feet high, behind a gas station and in the tree tops beyond that were eagles. My presence made a few of them nervous and a couple flew away, but others, including this handsome bird, stayed and let me get some really nice photos.
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.