Saturday, January 9, 2016

TrailMark Bald Eagle

I made careful plans to shoot sunrise at Cherry Creek State Park last Wednesday. Despite living in the Denver area for nearly 17 years, I'd never actually shot at the park. So I got up nice and early and headed out with plenty of time to spare. The clouds and sun were working together in perfect harmony as I drove -- the sunset was shaping up to be truly spectacular, full of vibrant color and texture in the sky. I entered the park, found a place with a terrific view to the southeast, set up my tripod, and noticed that I'd neglected to take the camera batteries out of the charger I'd put them in the previous night.

No. Freaking. Way.

It happens.  And there was nothing to be done but sigh, get back in the car and drive back to TrailMark.

Returning to the park was impractical.  But God and a lone bald eagle took pity on me.  As I got back into the neighborhood, the eagle was sitting there in a tree right by the pond above a trail I'd walked and biked on countless times.  Surely it would be gone by the time I actually got the batteries and drove back to the pond, right?


TrailMark Bald Eagle
Bald eagles are surprisingly skittish from my experience.  For large birds with sharp beaks and talons that spend their time high in trees when they're not actually in the air, the presence of a person on the ground unnerves them.  Or at least, my presence does.  So I wasted no time snapping the raptor right when I got out of the car.

Lo and behold, he didn't move.  And I didn't really care for the small branch sticking up behind his eye.  I wondered if he'd let me get a little closer and shift position a bit ...

TrailMark Bald Eagle
... he was definitely tracking me, but still didn't take off.  I'd managed to get a few steps closer but still had a few small branches obscuring his head and wing.  Maybe a touch closer and around to the left a little more ...

TrailMark Bald Eagle
... still tracking me.  And still not flying away.  Aaannnddd still a branch slightly in front of his face.


TrailMark Bald Eagle
Well, I was a few steps closer and he was still sitting there.  His face was clear now, but his body was cluttered with some branches ...

TrailMark Bald Eagle
Body and face clear now.  I was close enough that I didn't have to zoom all the way out to 400mm any more.  But now he looked like he had a twig growing right out of the top of his head ...

TrailMark Bald Eagle
Jackpot!  No twigs or branches where I didn't want them.  A little catch light on his eye.  That glowering expression eagles seem to have.  A slight peek at a talon curved around the branch.

I thanked my new feathered friend and returned to my car.  And he continued to act fairly indifferent to my intrusion on his morning.  I suppose living so close to development had habituated him to us funny two-legged beasts.

Every day has a sunrise.  Not every day has a bald eagle.  I was calling this a win!

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