Day #2: Feast – Magnificent American Bald Eagle with a Fish

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Best Nature Photos. 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. Migratory Birds. National Bird and Animal of America. Nature, Wildlife, Bird, and Landscape Photography by Prathap.

The Photo

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.

Extra Info

This is my first photo to cross 1000 +1s in Google+.  Here is the link to Google+ Post.

Technical Information

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

Quick Tip

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!

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8 Responses to Day #2: Feast – Magnificent American Bald Eagle with a Fish

  1. Surya February 24, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    Pratap,

    I’ve been following your wonderful articles for quite sometime. The details you put across on any topic make it quite interesting and make me learn (thoughvi hold an SLR for more thsn 15 yeras, I haven’t really crossed the beginners skill as yet) many nuances of Digital Photography.

    The idea of publishing one photo a day and explaining the story behind it is so unique to you and the best one could get from you. Thank you for taking so much time to publish these articles for the greater good of Photography reaching few more thousands or millions.

    One day I want to be part your personalized Photography lessons.

    Thanks a million and I wish you reaching great heights in the world of Photography.

    BTW, I love these photographs.

    • Prathap February 24, 2015 at 10:12 pm #

      Hi Surya, Thank you so much for your kind words. It makes me so happy to see many of our readers are appreciating the “Photo Diary” concept. It is helping me to relive those memorable moments and get inspired again to make more memorable photographs. And the inspiration that I am getting from all of you is making me humble and pushing me to do more to the community.

      Thank you very much for the best wishes and encouraging words. I would love to do personalized photography lessons. Do get in touch so that we can figure it out.

  2. Claire February 27, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

    I am really enjoying your photos and blog. Thank you for all of your helpful information for us beginners. I only got off the auto setting of my camera 1 1/2 years ago and have a passion for the birds in my area and the beautiful sunsets and an occasional sunrise. 🙂 I just found you today and look forward to more of your incredible photographs and teachings. Thank you from the northwest Florida Gulf Coast.

    • Prathap February 28, 2015 at 3:36 am #

      Hi Claire, thank you so much for your kind words. I hope you will have a nice time here at Nature Photography Simplified. Welcome aboard!

  3. Gopal sundaram February 27, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

    hi pratap

    great photograph. i always feel capturing a bird sitting on a branch, you are left with few options wrt. composition. There will be too many distractions like leaves branches etc. in the background . And, moving around looking for a better angle to get the composition, you run the risk of loosing the bird from the scene. how do you make sure the photo does not end up a record shot.

    • Prathap February 28, 2015 at 3:46 am #

      Hi Gopal, the easiest way to make sure you don’t end up getting a record shot is not to take photograph if the conditions are not good 🙂 Or take them and keep them as a reference and try some other time.
      However, you could always try doing following things:
      – Wait for the bird to take a nice position devoid of distractions or atleast fairly less distraction
      – Use a longer focal length and maximum aperture to through everything out of focus except the bird
      – Move very very slow. Approach the bird slowly and only when it is not paying too much attention
      – Frustration is another name for bird photography 🙂 (in a good way). Sometimes, you need to be too patient and wait for days.
      – Bird behave differently in different places. Go to places where birds are bit accustomed to human presence. That way you will increase your odds.

      I hope this helps.

  4. Bruna Mentrup-Nortje February 28, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    I am a pro photographer from Johannesburg, South Africa and have also been following your interesting articles for quite sometime now and find them to be constructive and very helpful. I particularly enjoy reading about the story behind the image and find your camera settings very interesting. Thank you for sharing and keep up the wonderful work.

    • Prathap February 28, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

      Hi Bruna Mentrup-Nortje, it’s an honor to have you in our blog. Thank you very much for your kind words. You have so many amazing photographs. I really enjoyed your work.
      I would recommend our readers to go through your website http://bruna.co.za/ to get more inspiration. Thank you!

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