Magnificent American Bald Eagle feeding on a Fish perched high up on a tree in Lock & Dam 14 located near LeClaire, Iowa on the Upper Mississippi River above Davenport River, Iowa and Moline, Illinois, USA.
Story Behind the Photo
After researching about the information about places to watch American Bald Eagles near to Chicago, where I stayed for a year, we came to a conclusion to visit Lock & Dam 13 for 3 days. Lock & Dam 13 is located on the Upper Mississippi River above Fulton, Illinois and Clinton, Iowa.
There were more than 500 Bald Eagles in Lock & Dam 13! It was a delightful scene for me and my wife to see so many of them in one place. Their flight, focus, precision as they grab their prey, and the fight! Everything about them was so amazing. However, the action was too far (may be around 40 feet) from the viewing platform because of a canal that was between us and the Bald Eagles.
Next day we ended up going to Lock & Dam 14 as we understood from few bird watchers that it was much closer there. It was indeed much closer to the action. We were surprised to see the sheer number of photographers lined up on the boardwalk with their bigger and bulkier lenses mounted on the tripod.
I was with my Nikon D7100 + Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 VR II lens with Nikkor 2.0x III tele converter. I was roaming around handholding my equipment to get the best angles and adjusting myself to get the best lighting possible.
Every time a Bald Eagle used to catch a fish, it would most often fly over the parking lot into the trees behind. Because most often they were chased by other Bald Eagles, they would swiftly move inside from tree to tree until they almost get into a place that is hardly visible to us and not easily accessible to other Bald Eagles.
It was already my second day and I was unable to get those photographs of Bald Eagle feeding. I was very keen on getting these photographs so that I could make a small photo story of a Bald Eagle (by the way, I have to post one soon!).
Finally, on the third day of our trip, this Bald Eagle came in with the fish and perched on a tree that was little bit exposed. I was sure that this would be the only opportunity to seize. I was ready and desperate. But remember that one has to be patient no matter what. If you move swiftly, birds will fly away.
I gave some time for the Bald Eagle to settle down and start eating. After few minutes, I started moving around to get good enough view because branches were all around the Eagle and was distracting my view. I wasn’t getting enough reach, so I had to move in closer but slowly.
With slight movements and careful selection of camera settings I was able to take several successful photographs of this Bald Eagle feeding. This particular photograph has many things coming together; be it Bald Eagle’s beautiful plumage, the focus in the eye, the grip, and the death in fish’s eyes.
I have put the American Bald Eagle in the top of the frame to give a sense of height, because they feed high up on the branches in reality.
This is my first photo to cross 1000 +1s in Google+. Here is the link to Google+ Post.
Body: Nikon D7100
Lens: AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II + Nikon TC-20E III 2x Teleconverter
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 400
Aperture (f-stop): f/5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec
Exposure Compensation: +1 EV
Metering Mode: Spot
Shooting Mode: Aperture Priority
The trick to move in closer is to wait for the bird to start performing some action (in the sense preening, feeding, fishing, something that it does naturally and comfortably) then start to move. When the bird is alert and looking around, any movement will disturb the bird and eventually it will fly off.
I hope you enjoyed this photo. Have a Great Day Ahead!