We were up at 3:30am this morning to head to Eagle Watch 2013 in Sheffield Mills, Nova Scotia.
We met our friends Chrissy and Alison at 8am the Sheffield Mills Community Centre. We got a map to the viewing site and all jumped in Jeff’s truck to head over to see the eagles.
We saw a dozen eagles before we got to the site. Then we saw a few dozen tripods!
We set up our tripod and camera and watched the bald eagles sitting in the trees surrounding the corn field. It was SO cold. -12C isn’t normally cold, but the wind chill was ridiculous. One by one we headed back to the truck for more layers and mitts and scarfs and face masks and winter boots… Then Alison, who is from South Africa and thinks this cold weather is positively lethal, stayed in the truck while we waited for the eagle feeding.
We waited and waited. All we knew was at some point between 8 am and 10 am someone was going to throw dead chickens out for the eagles to eat.
As everyone was getting frost bit, I even asked if anyone in the crowd had a sandwich we could throw out there to get the show going.
Finally at 9:17 a pickup truck pulled in and the man threw out 2 buckets of dead chickens.
Honestly, I was expecting the dozen or two eagles to immediately swoop down from the trees and have a feast. But only the seagulls lingered. (The dead chickens are the white-ish clumps in the middle of the next photo).
It was almost 10 minutes before the eagles saw the seagulls were starting to eat on the chickens that they put a stop to it and starting coming in.
The problem was it was absolutely too arctic outside to take photos and expose your fingers to the air. Jeff started taking photos on the tripod until his hands were ice. I tried to take over, but the tripod was a total no go. I just not that coordinated when the activity is fast.
Jeff took the camera off and I went wild taking photos of the eagles as they came in and stole chickens. Sometimes the chickens fell and they had to come back.
After my hand ceased up, Jeff took over for awhile while I thawed my hand. Then I found a way I could snap photos through my mitten and I was back in business.
We took 560 photos! We didn’t know if any of them would turn out or be in focus because we were just snapping like crazy, but we have many really amazing ones!
Jeff kept counting the eagles he could see and eventually their numbers topped out around 75 before the chickens got scarce.
Did you know bald eagles don’t have their white head until they are 5 years old? The immature ones are the mottled brown ones in these photos. The males are smaller and the females are the larger birds. The females weigh over 10 pounds!
We took photos from when he tossed out the chickens at 9:18 until 9:54 when the chickens were scarce and so was the blood in our hands and extremities.
I’d definitely go again. They hold this for 2 back to back weekends every year. See eaglens.ca for all the details.
We heard that yesterday the eagles took a while to show up and they weren’t as numerous so I would pick the second day to go again. And I’d wear a parka. And long johns.
I played with the new photo software I got for Christmas from Jeff’s brother – Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 to save this photos today. I need to fire through the tutorials because I was just guessing at how to use it. I didn’t change the colour of any of these, they are as-is from .raw format, I just zoomed in and cropped a few of pictures of the birds in the sky. This software is really nice, I’ll do a full review when I have a better handle of it. Thanks Brian!