I am having a great time with my 3 clients in Alaska on my bald eagle photography tour. They are learning how to be real wildlife photographers. The weather conditions are making it challenging to shoot. There is a foot of snow on the ground and the skies are very dark. There also aren’t as many eagles around this year. However, between my 2 cameras, I still captured over 1000 frames today. I have yet to capture a great eagle in flight shot, but I am trying. So far, this is my favorite image. This eagle posed for me for almost 20 minutes, which was enough time for me to get into a position for a clean bokeh background. To complete the shot, all I had to do was wait for him to disapprovingly glare at me.
This bird I did find in the guidebook. It is called a Bythe’s Hornbill. Pretty wicked looking dinosaur of a bird. This one is the resident pest at Sorido Bay. When I first approached it, I was unaware that it was kinda tame. I took one look at that bill as it was coming at me and considering my past luck with getting bit by exotic critters, I backed off. Some of the locals then came over and showed me that they could actually touch it. I’m still not sold that I’m going anywhere near that beak, but I am quite pleased that I got to use my camera today and came away with some respectable images.
Update on 11/25-I figured out that this bird is a Kingfisher of Paradise.
Today started out very early. I am staying at the Waiwo Field Station of Conservation International. They are kindly putting me up for 2 nights before I start diving tomorrow with Papua Diving. I am trying to photograph the incredibly rare Wilson’s Bird of Paradise. I had to get up very early and hike a long way up hill through the jungle. I wore my sandals and was covered in mud by the time we got to where my guide had scouted the bird. I actually got a glimpse of it twice, but did not get off a single frame. I spent about 4 hours in my blind waiting with all manner of bugs crawling over me and biting the hell out of me. I am taking an anti-malarial drug, so I hope that it works because I’m gonna need it after that trek. Sitting on my knees in the mud in the jungle of Papua, what a treat! I am going to try again tomorrow. This bird is not a BOP, but rather something kinda cool that is not in the field guide that I have been looking through all evening. At least I took some pictures today that I can feel good about.
Eagles are surprisingly difficult to get close to in the wild. Sure, I have been only a few feet away from them on a boat dock while someone was cutting up a salmon, but to get close to them in a more natural setting is very difficult. They spook very easy, and when I am on the water, they can see me coming from a long way away. These 2 posed long enough for me to get a few shots with the nice blurred mountain background before they too took flight. Please visit more of my Bald Eagle Photography.
One of my favorite new bald eagle images has been awarded 3rd Place Mountain Flora & Fauna in the 2008 Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival Photography Competition. I captured this moment while visiting the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines, Alaska last fall. I approached this eagle through the woods and got down as low as I could on the ground to capture the perfect background blur behind it just as it called out to another eagle flying overhead. Please visit my Bald Eagle Photography page to see more of my bald eagle images.