All this time I have shown you the birds and animals at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Yesterday, I shot the following photos so you can see what the refuge actually looks like at least in the fall when the green has given way to brown and sepia. The same juvenile Bald Eagle from last week was also there, ruling over the fall landscape.
Yesterday was cloudy and cool, ending up with heavy rain. Only a few people showed up at the refuge while the birds were even more scarce. I got some lucky shots of a juvenile Bald Eagle before it flew away from its perch. It is probably between two and three years old.
Two other cars stopped by and it finally had enough of the photography sessions.
One afternoon, a Bald Eagle flew in and circled Colonial Lake several times looking for fish. It even dove toward the water once but still came up with no fish, but it provided good opportunities for photographing in the waning sun.
A few weeks ago, a Turkey Vulture was also soaring above Colonial Lake for several minutes, looking for carrion in the nearby woods, or perhaps for dead fish dropped by the eagles.
It came down low enough for me to take a shot looking at its back. I did not see it catch anything.
Then a Red-tailed Hawk (tentative identification) also made its appearance.
More photos of the Bald Eagles at Colonial Lake, NJ, taken three days ago.
About a week ago, Colonial Lake was stocked with 170 Trout. That may explain why Bald Eagles have been coming there to fish, although other lakes in New Jersey were also restocked with Trout, mainly for recreation fishing by humans.
For some reason, the half-eaten fish fell to the ground (I did not know that until much later when I passed by the tree the Bald Eagle was on).
As temperatures today climbed above 50 °F (10 °C), I went to Colonial Lake to see if the birds responded to the sudden warmth after a long winter. At first I only saw seagulls and Mallard ducks, then just as I got back into the car to go home, two Bald Eagles appeared! They flew around the lake.
Then they went to perch on tree branches and looked down on walkers, joggers, and photographers. Apparently, they had caught and eaten some fish and were just happy to sit up high and enjoy the scenery.
Several young Bald Eagles were flying around a small island in the middle of the marsh. Some attempted to catch a fish but failed.
The one above landed on the island where a mature Bald Eagle was watching everything.
For several minutes the older Bald Eagle seemed to be calling to the new arrival.
After the young one landed and stood to the side, the mature Bald Eagle kept calling, perhaps telling the younger one to fly again and go catch some fish.
Finally the younger Bald Eagle had to take off again.
Yesterday at the refuge, a pair of Bald Eagles were flying in a courtship ritual that was dramatic, fast, and hard to catch for my camera. They were alternatively soaring to the sky and plunging toward the marsh at high speed. Often they were too far from where I was, and I could only get good focus on about half of the shots. The following photos will give you an idea of what took place.
The American Goldfinch stands out with its bright yellow coloring in Spring and Summer. The rest of the year, when they are not breeding, their colors are more subdued, even drab, although they still remain very cute.
Another ubiquitous bird is the Red-winged Blackbird.
The female Red-winged Blackbird does not have that red and yellow patch on her wings.
In the fall, Red-winged Blackbirds often join with European Starlings to form flocks of birds that roam through refuges, importuning even Bald Eagles.
The smaller birds temporarily took over a favorite perch of the Bald Eagles at Blackwater NWR.
Finallly, many flocks of Canada Geese flew over the non-migrating Bald Eagle.
Just before Thanksgiving, I went to look for Tundra Swans and Bald Eagles to photograph. I drove first to Maryland’s Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, a place that is threatened with closure for lack of funding. At the present time, there is only one employee left at Eastern Neck. He told me Tundra Swans have started arriving, but only a few have, and they were staying far from the refuge coastline.
Next I went on to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, MD. From the Visitor Center, I could see four Tundra Swans , but it was not easy to photograph them as they were too far. The following photo shows one of them waking up from a midday nap, stretching a wing and a leg. I hope to have better images in late December or next January as the swans arrive in greater numbers at Eastern Neck NWR.
Blackwater NWR is famous for its Bald Eagles, with some staying there all year round. This is one pair that could be seen from Wildlife Drive.
After watching that pair, I drove around Wildlife Drive for a second time, and found another pair, unless it was the same one above that moved to a different location. This couple was perched on a dead tree sticking out of the water.
One of the eagles kept calling out for several minutes.
Finally, the one that was calling flew off.
It went in circle, looping around several times, putting on a majestic show for the visitor photographer.
Then it landed back to its perch on the dead tree.
bald eagle, barn swallow, barnegat lighthouse, Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, great egret, Long-billed Dowitcher, mourning dove, photography, postaday, ring-billed gull, sanderling, year of the bird
2018 is the Year of the Bird, as declared by the National Audubon Society, National Geographic, BirdLife International, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I didn’t know about that until now, but here are seven photos I took recently of birds around New Jersey.
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is at the Northern end of Cayuga Lake, one of the 11 finger lakes in New York state. It is less than a quarter of the size of Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, but has much of the same wildlife, with the addition of Sandhill Cranes and Black Terns that are not usually seen in New Jersey.
We drove on Wildlife Drive through Montezuma NWR, stopping occasionally to take pictures.
A young Bald Eagle surprised me by swooping overhead and diving toward the marshes. It was too fast and moved around too much for me to get good pictures, but the following will give you an idea of the drama evolving in the sky.
However, the young Bald Eagle failed to catch any fish.
There were several Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets that landed near Wildlife Drive then stood or walked in the water.
There were many Ring-billed Gulls and Canada Geese at Montezuma NWR. One gull was hovering over the marshes and crisscrossing the sky, asking to be photographed.
Early this morning I went to Colonial Lake, a small lake about 5 miles (8 km) from home where at least one Bald Eagle has been seen on a daily basis. Not more than 15 minutes after I arrived, an eagle swooped down and plucked a big fish out of the lake. I was not quite ready yet, so my first shot is not the best, but at least you do see the action.
The eagle took the fish to a high branch on a tree and proceeded to eat it there.
He ate the whole fish in less than 10 minutes, after which he took off right above me to go for a drink.
He had several drinks, looking up each time to check his surroundings.
Then he shifted position.
Then he flew up to a nearby tree, perched on a branch, and looked down on the lake and the other birds there, ignoring the few humans who wandered around along the lake shore.
I think he eventually took a nap for I did not see it move from his perch for almost half an hour.
This morning was cloudy and windy, but I went to the refuge anyway, and among the many birds and ducks I saw a young Bald Eagle who put on an impressive flying exhibition.
People in several cars were trying to take its picture, so the Bald Eagle took off.
It looked as if it was preparing to dive.
But it just banked and flew away.
Here’s another shot of it against a small portion of the sky that was blue.
The weather was bad and I had to work, so I have not taken any photo for a week. The following shots are of Bald Eagles at the Conowingo Dam in Maryland at the beginning of this year, two weeks ago. They were busy hunting for fish and glided regally against a blue sky as several dozens of photographers, just like paparazzi around celebrities, aimed their long lenses at them.
Conowingo Dam is a hydroelectric dam built across the Susquehanna River located at the northeast corner of Maryland. It is world famous as the place to photograph Bald Eagles. I found out about it from a photographer I met recently while looking for this year’s Snowy Owl in New Jersey (I haven’t found it yet). He said it was best to go in November, but some Bald Eagles may still be at the dam until February. So I went there this past weekend.
There were perhaps 50 to 100 photographers with big and long zoom lenses. I was told that in November, photographers, many from far way Asian and European countries, would be standing shoulder to shoulder on Fisherman’s Wharf to photograph hundreds of Bald Eagles as they compete for fish, mainly shad, on the rocky area beneath the dam. The photos they took and posted on the Internet are simply amazing.
The following photos show a Bald Eagle swooping down for a catch, then losing it.
Photographing scenes like these requires a lot of preparation and patience. In addition to their cameras, lenses, and tripods, people brought along food, warm drinks, and camp chairs to sit on while they wait for hours and hours. Of course, everyone wore warm clothes, and many even had hunting camos on themselves and wrapped around their lenses.
On Monday, as soon as I entered the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, I noticed some commotion going on in the reeds. A bald eagle was diving for a fish, there was a splash of water, wings beating furiously. It all happened very fast, and I had only time to take out my camera and take this one shot.
The eagle did not catch anything!