Bald Eagles Fishing at Low Tide

There are three bald eagles calling and diving, chasing each other around the sky just above my head. I have the camera trained on them but, as I am pointing almost directly into the bright sunshine, the shutter simply won't open. I can hardly bring myself to curse, however, as the scene before me is so amazing.

It's only my second time out with the camera looking for eagles. I have enjoyed walking at the edge of the water during low tide at Spanish Banks in English Bay (Vancouver) for years. The other day I was just strolling along enjoying the scenery when suddenly a bald eagle flew right by me. I mean, less than five feet away. I was stunned. A lifelong camper and outdoors enthusiast, this experience made such an impression on me that I decided immediately I would bring my camera with me every time.

Right now I am the only person amongst this natural wildlife. The weather has not been very good and, at early June, it's still too chilly for most people to venture the two kilometers out to the sand bar, the farthest point of the low tide. As well as the eagles, there are great blue heron, little harbour seals and all manner of seagulls feeding on the fish that get trapped in the swirling currents.

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Wild Bald Eagle 1

The eagles ignore me as they jostle for the best fishing spot, occasionally sending up flurries of lesser birds with their flying sprints. Turning back towards the city I snap a shot of a typical scene.

Wild Bald Eagle 2

I walk barely a few steps before another eagle flies by me.

I can't thank my quick reflexes enough! I follow it. The fishing at the very end of the sand bar reaches a frenzied peak; when the tide is at it's lowest the water coming in from the north shore meets the water coming from the west at a right angle. Briefly I notice a group of heron scooping out fish with remarkable frequency. Turning back to the task at hand, it's the eagles that interest me most after all, I snap another shot. I guess this eagle has had it's fill, because it flies back to shore.

Wild Bald Eagles 3

What a wing span!

Wild Bald Eagles 4

Only to be quickly followed by another eagle, just on its way out for a feeding.

By now the afternoon is passing on. As the air warms up I can see groups of people beginning to make their way out here from the shore. Many of them have dogs, which I know will probably drive the eagles away. I've already used two rolls of film and am considering what to do next when I spot an eagle, fish between its feet, sitting comfortably on the sand not far from me. I decide a stealthy approach is worth the effort. At worst it will fly away and I will just continue back to shore.

Wild Bald Eagles 5

It watches me warily but feels secure enough to stay put. I am within 10 meters when I snap this shot. I'm delighted that the patient eagle stays put while I change lenses!

Wild Bald Eagles 6

I guess I stand up too abruptly because the eagle wafts away, but very slowly and a lazily, and only a short distance.

That's enough good luck for one day. Better save some for another time! I return to shore in a cloud of happiness.

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