Sunday, October 25, 2009

Seeing is Believing

After spending the first part of Saturday morning watching my cute little jock of a grandson play football, I drove to Conowingo Dam to see the eagles.

I went, armed with my camera, knowing I was not going to get any great bird images. It was rainy and overcast, so the light wasn't great. You need good light to capture great details. I also knew I don't have the right equipment or skills, and presumed, correctly, that the eagles would be across the river.

I know birds. Not as well as some, but better than most. It's sort of geeky, but it comes from watching birds (as a backyard birder only) and looking at bird books to identify the birds I see.

As stated in an article in Nature Photographers Online Magazine...
Bird photography is a very challenging endeavor, requiring specialized skills and equipment – one does not simply pick up the camera used for family vacation photos and capture compelling avian images.
My camera is decent enough for a hobby photographer (Canon Rebel XT), but to get really good bird images like this one, and this one, and this one, you either need to be fairly close or have at least a 400mm lens, which lists at $1,799. A 600mm like this one wouldn't hurt either, but with a suggested retail price of $9,199, that's not an option for me either. (Check out the image on this page to see what that lens looks like when in use.)

Enough caveats? I just want to make sure my photographer friends don't think I'm trying to say any of the images I'm sharing below are good bird pics. They are merely snapshots to back-up my claim that there are some eagles to see at Conowingo Dam.

Since I don't have any great lenses, you will need to click on these images to enlarge them if you want to see the birds.

When I first arrived at the dam, I overshot the turn for Shuresville Road on the Harford County side of the river. The first image in this post (above) was taken from the Cecil County side just to show everyone what a dismal day it was.

Once I managed to get to Fisherman's Park at the base of the dam, I was happy to see there were actually eagles there. There are at least two in this shot of the rocks right across the river.

I walked downriver a couple hundred yards and looked again. More closely this time.

"Holy cow," I said aloud. "They're all over the rocks."

There are at least 18 mature eagles (with white heads) in the shot directly above. Eighteen is a lot of eagles.

Then I looked slightly further downriver and saw even more of the majestic birds. I honestly thought you could only see this many eagles at one time in Alaska.

Quite intrigued at that point, I kept watching. In this image, you can see one flying while others are still perched on the rocks below.

Even if I couldn't get any great shots, it was fun just watching. I mean, how often do you get to see multiple bald eagles flying around?

I kept snapping pictures, too. I tried counting the birds while there, but it's hard on a tiny little image screen. Once I got home, I looked through the MANY pictures I took to see which one had the most birds in it. Now, if you count mature and immature eagles, there are AT LEAST 36 of them in the above image. Maybe a couple more. There are some crows and herons in the shot, too.

Thirty-six eagles captured in one photo. I'm guessing there are at least 100 birds of those majestic birds in the general area. Probably more.

It really was neat to see. And they don't just hang out on the rocks. They fish and fly around, too. I actually saw two, at different times, flying overhead with fish in their talons.

It's neat just watching single birds soar. But what's really cool... when two or more fly around together.

I wish I could have stayed longer.

You know what's really amazing? Supposedly the highest numbers of eagles are present December through February. You can bet I'll be back there later this year, with Hubby, to see this again.


  1. Wow Kathy, even though didn't have the right kind of lens on the camera, you did get some great shots. Thanks for sharing and so close to home also.

    Mom R-

  2. Fantastic!
    If you make another weekend trip to see the eagles, and want a tag-a-long...I'd be happy to keep you company!
    TTFN! Janice K.


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