Saturday, April 20, 2013

Congregation of dozen eagles

Right after walking out my front door, I spotted four bald eagles soaring and gliding on thermals along the ridge above Puget Sound and the Nisqually delta. Mostly juveniles that appeared to be a year or two old, there was at least one adult with characteristic white head - second from the left in the photograph above.

Nine bald eagles - three others were just out of view.
Altogether there were 12 in the sky but spread far apart with two pairs and combinations of three, four, five, and seven. Their flight patterns shifted every few moments like a kaleidoscope.

For much of an hour, I was enthralled with not only their flight maneuvers but activity in the small pond below that's formed by stormwater. A nesting pair of red-winged blackbirds and a hunting great blue heron occupied opposite sides of the pond directly below the eagles.

I'll post those images later this weekend. The light was pretty dim and would've benefitted from a fill flash. Maybe next time. This is the second time I've spotted a number of bald eagles in this same spot. We have two nests within a square mile of where these birds can be seen.

They are all related in some way, perhaps brothers and sisters from different broods, or cousins. A few years ago, I photographed four fledglings in a snag near here. Four adult eagles were nearby.

One pair mirrored each other's flight patterns and occasionally circled each other mid-air, sometimes with talons locked, one nearly upside down. 

Their actions seemed choreographed; their ballet lasting well past sundown. 

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