Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fighting over Salmon

In today's eagle photo you can see what all the fuss is about with the eagles in Haines, Alaska.  There is a late run of Chum Salmon that spawn in the Chilkat River and as everyone knows, after salmon spawn they die.  The Chilkat River is a very braided river with a lot of shallows and the dying fish wallowing in the shallows make easy pickings for the eagles.  We saw a lot of fish get devoured by eagles during our week in Haines.  Believe me, with half a dozen eagles munching on a salmon, it doesn't very long for that salmon to disappear.  It seems more often than not that they eat the body of the salmon first and leave the head for last.  Quite frequently there is a fight over who gets the head.  Many times we saw the victorious eagle take flight with the head to finish eating it from the relative safety of a perch in a tree.  This photo shows one eagle chasing another eagle away in an attempt to make off with the fish head.

Chilkoot Lake Fog

One of the prettiest areas we saw on our trip to Haines, Alaska was Chilkoot Lake and the Chilkoot River. We made several trips to this area during our stay and each time we were greeted with differing but equally beautiful conditions.  Near the end of our trip we had some rainy weather and some incredible fog conditions.  When we got to the lake on the afternoon of November 19th the shoreline on the far side of the lake was blanketed in fog.  The air all around us was unbelievably calm and quiet.  Eagles called in the distance.  It was another moment of surreal beauty on a trip that was filled endlessly amazing sights!  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mendenhall Glacier - Juneau, Alaska

My first time photographing a glacier!  Seeing Mendenhall Glacier was an awesome experience.  Even though the glacier has receded a lot in recent years, it is still incredible to see especially if you've never seen one up close before.  The colors, patterns and textures in the ice are beautiful.  It certainly whets my appetite to see more glaciers!  This was the first of several glaciers that we saw on our trip, although this is the only one we were able to get relatively close to.  The rest were seen either from the Alaska State Ferry or from across Chilkat Inlet on our hike in Chilkat State Park, Haines. 

Nugget Falls - Juneau, Alaska

I've been so focused on eagles with my Alaska posts that I sort of forgot about all these other cool images I have to share with you as well!  Such as this photo of Nugget Falls in Juneau.  This waterfall is right near Mendenhall Glacier and is AMAZING!  It makes for a great shot with a telephoto lens as well as up close and personal with a wide angle lens.  I made this photo with my Tamron 150-600mm lens from near the visitor center, about a half mile away from the waterfall.  We had seen this mountain biker come around the bend, riding along the shoreline of the lake below the glacier.  I waited, hoping he would ride in front of the waterfall and sure enough, he did!  It made for a great shot as well giving a good sense of scale to the size of the waterfall.  The waterfall is quite tall (according to sources online it drops 377 feet in two tiers of 99 feet and 278 feet); this photograph shows less than half of its total height. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Attempted Robbery

I've decided to share another action sequence of the eagles with you today!  This is what happens when one eagle is snacking on a dead salmon and another eagle comes in and tries to take it.  Sometimes the intruding eagle is successful and makes off with what remains of the fish.  Other times the intruding eagle goes away empty handed, as seen here.  It looks like the eagle is going to get away with the fish in this instance, but for some reason he lets go and flies off without it. Sorry I didn't get the full sequence of him flying away empty handed.  My finger must have let up on the shutter because I got this series of 3 images of him flying in to try and take it, and the 4th image shows him flying away already halfway out of the frame.  Whether the attempted robberies are successful or not, one thing is for certain: the interactions are always a lot of fun to watch!   I love how the eagle in the background is just sort of standing there, innocently watching the interaction between the two eagles in the foreground :-)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Foggy Evening in the Chilkoot River Valley

Here is another image of an eagle and its surrounding environment taken along the Chilkoot River in Haines, Alaska.  This valley was one of the unexpected highlights of our trip.  We knew it would be beautiful, but we had no idea just how beautiful it was going to be!  We ended up going back to this valley on two more occasions and each time we found things that were were well worth the trip, like this eagle perched in the fog.  Alaska has surprises around every corner :-)

Chilkoot Eagle in Spruce Tree

As much as I enjoy photographing the action of eagles interacting with each other (and don't worry, there are more of those images to come!), I also enjoy looking for scenes of single eagles within their surrounding environment.  The other day we came across one such environmental scene, where this solitary eagle was perched in a spruce tree and the tree was absolutely LOADED with cones!  I thought it made for a fascinating image.