I went to the beach today during a sunny lull in the snow. It was brisk but really lovely with a low tide that revealed how the beach was scoured from stormy high tides. Made it to the end of the beach and was hanging out.
Then I heard the crows raising a ruckus, which is always a good sign of some excitement up on the cliff trees. I was right because a big white head stood out like a blazing sun. It was an amazing adult bald eagle. It got better since he was feasting on a fish. Oh Yum!!
He was hanging out on a bleached white madrona tree limb. Perfect place to keep watch on the world while he snacked.
How about we get a little closer to our fabulous bald eagle?
Did you see the fish’s backbone? This eagle has been here a while eating some white fish he caught. If the crows had not been hoping for a stolen bite I would have missed him up there on the steep bank.
Let us zero in on his talons. They are nothing to mess with.
Check out how he works the remnants of the fish to get the last morsels. At the end you can see how the bones just fall away. Pretty much all done.
One last shot of this symbol of our country enjoying his catch of the day.
Crows and Eagles have a hate relationship. Lets say there is no love lost between them. This weekend down on the Puget Sound beach (great low tide) I caught a young bald eagle flying around.
At first a couple crows would take turns chasing the eagle. They were on guard patrol. I heard at least two baby crows crying in the madrona forest on the hillside. This made me worry that the eagle wanted a quick snack. This is what the pursuing crew of crows are trying to prevent. If they chase the bigger bird away, then he won’t find their precious nursery sites.
After a few pass over the bluff, the eagle landed in a madrona tree. This is where I got my camera out and took a few pictures. The first one is a distant view that will give you perspective of what I mean by madrona forest on the hillside.
As you can see this tree is a long ways from where I am down on the beach. A telephoto lenses and a good pair of binoculars are a must to sort out what these the birds are really doing up there.
This photo is a bit closer to the action. The red arrow shows you the dark blob that is the eagle. The blue arrow is the guard crow making sure the family knows where the pesky predator is.
Now that you know where the players are hanging out here is a little more zoom on the camera shot. You can clearly see the eagle blob is more than just tree.
Then another crow decided he needed to get up close and personal with the eagle. He landed on a branch on the same tree as the big bird. Before he did that he did a fly by & swooped as near as possible. This also gives you a better look at the eagle. It is a bit tough cause he is on the other side of all the trees branches.
Getting even closer with the camera zoom, I am trying to tell which way the eagle is facing. I think he is looking away from me towards the south. His perch is such that we are looking thru the tree at him. It is open on his side so there is a clear view of the water and likely snacks he is seeking.
To wrap this up – here is a really zoomed view of the eagle. I think we are looking at his butt but I will let you decide. Nothing like an eagle butt to make us all giggle like little kids.
It was a beautiful day between Northwest winter storms plus I had a new camera to test out. So, off to Lincoln Park I went. There I walked the trails towards a staircase that goes down the bluff to the sound. I heard this high pitch bird screetch which can only be from a Bald Eagle. There on a snag seen from the forest staircase was the eagle pair sunning themselves.
The first photo above is from the trail staircase. What made me double happy was the excitement the eagles caused to others. Before I hit the staircase an older gentleman on a bicycle had wished me Merry Christmas. I told him there was a pair of eagle on the snag and he followed me. Then I loaned him my binoculars and he was bedazzled while I took several photos.
Next I walked down the stairs to the beach in an effort to see if I could get a better view from there. Wow, lots of folks were strolling down the path on the shore. Kids, parents and all sorts of dogs were basking in the sun on this day before the holiday.
I found the snag and the eagles were still just hanging out. They were oblivious to the human parade down below their perch. I took up a place in the driftwood looking for a place to perch my camera to get a good shot. I started with less zoomed out to document the larger environment.
Then I work on the zoom in close-ups. Bird photography is at the mercy of the bird staying put. By doing it this way I can at least get a shot. If one starts fussing with zoom you risk getting nothing but a snag. Who wants to share a photo of an old dead tree?
Next to me in the driftwood were three kids building something with boards and stray logs. As I was concentrating on stabilizing my zoomed out camera I overhead the dad say to them…. look at the two eagles.
After I got a few shots, I got up and loaned them my binoculars. They were entranced just like the guy on the stairs & very grateful to see these magnificent birds up close.
Hope this pair sticks around and raise a family in Lincoln Park like they have in the past. Have to keep my eyes open for them and perhaps get more great shots with my new Nikon Camera.
What a weekend in the Pacific Northwest! The hours of daylight are increasing and the sun was out in a wonderful warm way.
The crows and a young eagle were making the best of it just like us humans. We were all putting our beaks in the sun!
At the beach the tide was out and the sky was crystal clear blue. This crow was sitting on a rock telling the world about the sparkle.
The flock was not shy as I fed them peanuts with the youngsters daring each other to see who could get closest. This adult guard posed on a piling for me in the sun.
His black plumage is iridescent. Remember how I talked about their true color is ultra violet and that helps them identify each other.
Then he turned to at me and gave me the look of …. where is the peanut?
The photo at the top shows a take off shot. This next one is a beach landing.
I left the beach with a smile on my face and started my trek home. Close to the 35th – Marine View Drive hairpin corner park I spotted an odd looking blob in a fir tree. It was just too big to be a cone and didn’t look like a bough.
It was a young eagle!
Talk about serendipity!! What a great opportunity to see a magnificent bird watching the water from up on the bluff.
I got down on the sidewalk, balanced my camera on my knee and zoomed a few shots of this youngster.
The wind was blowing a little and this next shot shows his head feathers getting ruffled.
Then to make the scene complete an older couple with their dog came walking by. I decided I should get up off the pavement or they would think I was crazy or hurt.
Showed them the eagle and shared my binoculars. They were amazed and their happiness made my day even better.
Sun, birds, serendipity all come together for those that look up and cherish the moment. Get out and bask in the spring sun!
On the Green River to the west side of Kent, the city has converted the old country roads on both banks to trails. You may have seen this in my series about what I saw walking the Green River Trail.
This President Day it was sunny but chilly and I set out to do one of the loops that they have created. My path was where a small foot bridge crosses the river to the west bank. I parked my car on the east side of the bridge and to my delight the crow family I saw before were there. The picture above shows the area of the bridge. Here is a link to that prior post (about year and half ago) which among other topics talks about this family by the bridge.
They were also there when I returned at the end of my walk. Here is one of them hanging out watching me throw the peanuts for them.
Off I went across the bridge. I could see through the metal grating as I crossed the river. That freaked me out a bit and then I hit a grate that rattled. That got me hanging onto the rail from there on. I was going to walk down the west side of the river and then turn around. That bridge freaked me out so much, I decided I would walk down to the next pedestrian bridge and then walk back on the east bank trail.
That turned out to be a great thing because I came to where I had seen the young eagle a year and half ago. This is an established pair in two poplar trees. Here is the blog post to give you some context.
This set of babies were raised in the tree to the left. The family has moved into a new nest on the right tree leaving the old nest as a nice memory.
When I approached the area, I heard a big bird making some calls. Not the usual eagle screech but certainly not a chickadee sound. That was when I saw one of them up in the tree.
I then walked on down the trail and when the tree got back in view I was able to see the pair in the nest.
A lot of non-bird people do not realize that many bird species have staked out homes and territories just like we humans. This revisit to the Green River trails confirmed for me that both the crows and eagles are returning again and again. They are not only raising families here but have found good food sources. Why would they give up a good thing?
Crows are show offs when they mob or harass larger birds like this immature eagle. At the beach today this 2nd year bald eagle was perched in the poplar tree. You can tell he is this age due to the white spots on his chest, his beak has hardly any yellow and his head is all brown.
He is perched up high so he can watch for dinner opportunities.
The crow murder was also at the beach since it was low tide. My count of them was around 50 strong as they hung out down on the rocky peninsula.
Now that I have set the stage let’s get down to the crow with some balls.
He lands close to the eagle and starts performing for not only the big bird of prey but all his friends and family.
Yes you can see the crow was getting bored since the eagle hardly budged after being cawed at by this bothersome corvid.
That was when the eagle saw his meal and flew off to make it happen. He went to the beach so he could secure his load. The crows tried for a grab at him as you can see below.
Soon thereafter the eagle flew off into the trees to enjoy his dinner. The crows followed but I couldn’t catch up with them to see the final outcome.
I bet the eagle got to eat. However, not in peace and quiet.
Ocean View Beach today had an Eagle visiting. He was perched in the poplar tree that the crows and eagles use regularly as a look out.
When I first got to the beach there he was. From the photo below you can see he is a black dot in the tree. Not long after I took two photos he flew off to the madronas on the hill to the south.
Behind me I found two crows hanging out. They were doing the guard crow duty of watching the much bigger and dangerous eagle.
I went about my business and walked down the beach even though it was high tide. Upon my return I went up onto the small marine residence there. This has a raised bulkhead with a swing, benches and viewing areas. I use this to feed the crows, watch the otters (who I was looking for but they were a no-show) and enjoying the view in general.
As I walked up the stairs I saw Seagull feathers. They are easy to spot since they are white and light grey. Here is what it looked like. It is odd since two feathers are still attached. Not your usual molting type deal.
As I walked across the area I noticed more feathers.
Then I saw another pair of feathers still attached and knew a gull had become an eagle meal. The way the feathers were spread it looks like the eagle sat in a madrona tree that hangs over the marine residence.
I walked around up the trail behind the swing and there was more feathers. This just confirmed my suspicion even more.
This is life’s cycle. A bit disturbing but we have to remember Mr. Eagle has to beat out a living and it might mean a dinner of seagull. Now you know why the crow families watch out for each other by posting guards.
It is easy to just focus on the pretty things. I would be remiss if I only shared those views. However, to end on a positive note here is a view of Puget Sound not long before finding the gull feathers.
Then serendipity led me to another sweet find that balances what nature delivered. There I found this budding periwinkle flower. The snow and cold here in Seattle had just left a few days ago and this plant is trying to show us spring is not far off. I leave you with that little bit of purple determination.
Rounded the bend and there he was in a snaggy tree looking wet and soggy. Only by chance did I get to see this guy. Traffic was backed up on the freeway so I drove the back-way through Allentown and along the Green River.
The Bald Eagle has made a big come back. Years ago this would have been a rare sighting and everyone would stop to gawk. Not now, they just whiz by and don’t even notice him sitting there.
This summer I decided to hike the Green River Trail. Most folks bicycle along the trail but I did it all on my feet.
This is a trail easily accessible to me versus driving into the Cascades each weekend. The beginning point is only 15 minutes away from my house. It also was a place I am familiar with since I had lived in a small house where the Cecil Moses Park now exists.
Over the months I would drive to where I left off and then walk a couple of miles taking photos of bridges, nature, birds, the river and living in some history moments. Then I would turn around and walk back to my car. Some return trips I took another route or short cut but in most cases it was the same path.
This quest ended Thursday when I made it to Foster Park in Kent. This is where the Green River Trail meets the Interurban Trail. A beginning or an end or both. The extra meaning to this park is my maiden name is Foster so it was a special place to end the quest.
After I wrote the last blog post on my trip down the trail, I decided to better organize the postings. I re-categorized them all under “Green River Trail” and composed this summary post with links to the major pieces.
Hope you enjoy a little meandering down the river!
As I traversed the Green River Trail over the last couple of weeks, I heard over and over about the Eagles down in Kent. I finally made it to that point and was not disappointed.
Not only did I find the Eagles but this is my 400th Crows of Arroyos posts. This blog adventure started in November 2010. What a long journey it has been. Thank you to everyone’s kind words and support
Yesterday, when I first walked up to the trail entrance, I knew this was the place. There was a gentleman with a camera on a tripod. He was very helpful and pointed out where the nest was.
Later when I came back from walking the trail a bit, I got this good shot of the nest. In hindsight if he had not been there I might have found it just by the poop trail running down the foliage.
The first time I saw the boy eagle was when my tutor said “incoming”. There he was landing on the right side of the nest tree. Not long after one of his parents came flying in. Then a lot of eagle talk started to happen. My tutor again told me that most of the sound was from the girl eagle still deep inside the nest. She had not fledged yet and the parents were giving the pair some tough love. The shots I got of him at this point were kind of fuzzy and he was shielded by leaves too. I think the high power equipment of my fellow watcher intimated me and plus I had left my tripod at home.
So, I went down the trail to get back to where I had left off to the north. Back on my quest to walk the trail from end to end. When I returned, I saw the gentleman tutor leaving. I was able to sit down on a bench and compose myself to get the photos you see here. The boy had moved closer to the nest and I had a steady hand.
Then it was my turn to educate others. As I sat on the bench, a golfer behind the fence that separated the trail from the course shouted out “hey Birdwatcher Lady”. He wanted to know where the nest was. This eagle nest is an urban legend in Kent as I had already found out weeks ago. I happily went over to the fence and pointed it out. Then lent my binoculars for them to see it better.
I got one more shot of the nest with my high power Nikon and then a photographers nightmare happened. My batteries died. They had gone from half charge to no charge in moments.
Hope you enjoy this view of nature at it’s best for our American Icon.