Monday, February 27, 2012

Sometimes I just get lucky...(in photography)

            Usually I try really hard to take great pictures. I go place early and snap off hundreds, if not thousands of pictures, just to get one that will give the beauty of the Olympic Peninsula, the State of Washington, or just my backyard the justice it deserves. SO much work goes into waiting for good weather, setting up the tripod, hiking for miles and or dealing with who knows what, that rarely do I have a day where the adrenaline flows through me just because I get a chance to share a picture with you all.

          Today, I didn't try hard and yet, was able to have one aspect of photography go my way...LUCK

Mt Rainier from Nisqually
          Looking at the weather forecast, I saw that if I was going to take pictures of the Olympic Mountains, it would be today or next week. Not wasting time, I left my house at about 2pm and went to the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge just 15 minutes away. With views of Mt. Rainier, Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountain Range all visible, I was eager to snap away an entire SD card. Sadly, the views were just normal and very few birds were out and about, making me think I had wasted my time. Don't get me wrong, I took pictures of the mountains, but I have been here at least a hundred other sunny days, and I wasn't seeing anything out of the ordinary, plus it was low tide so the mud flats were brown and plain...

Tacoma Narrows and the Nisqually Mudflats
I decided, despite the lack of things to take pictures of, I would walk to the end of the board walk and take a glance at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and see if any eagles were fishing at the water line. I got to the lookout, saw some eagles in the distance, snapped a few quick pictures and headed back.

As I was walking back, out of the corner of my eye, I saw an immature bald eagle catch a fish. Stoked that the action was picking up, I ran to a spot where I could watch it quickly devour it's tasty salmon buddy. This is when things got fun.
Immature Bald Eagle having enough of the Crow

After it got done eating, a crow started to harass the eagle until the eagle had enough and went after the crow. The crow darted between trees, and apparently decided that it should fly directly at me. The eagle didn't fall for this trick, and soon, both flew within 10 feet of my perch on the boardwalk. I tried taking pictures, but they were darting and dancing around so much that all my pictures came up blurry or as sky...though I would later not care. The eagle, after feeling ti had scared the daylights out of the crow, circled above me and landed, 20 feet away, on the railing of the boardwalk.

It was then and there that my boring day turned into the greatest eagle experience of my life. The Immature Bald Eagle sat on the railing and allowed me to inch up, over the course of 15 minutes to be no more than 8 feet away from it. I snapped off over 100 pictures, watching it groom itself, shake its head, watch me and even communicate with a few mature eagles flying over. I didn't dare switch lenses, but I did snap off pictures that, at this moment, still get my pulse pounding.

8ft away from me!!
Soon, the moment with the eagle ended, as a few other birders crept up and finally scared this young majestic beast away. I swear though, we connected. As the eagle landed on a stump far away, I raced back to my car and immediately went through the pictures I took. I laughed to myself as I looked at them, because for years I had teased my friends with huge lenses that I would get a good eagle picture by earning it, and sure enough...I finally did.

Thanks for sharing a moment, Eagle Friend. Immature Bald Eagle with Tacoma Narrows Bridge in the background.
Nisqually is great like that. You may have a slow day, but then an eagle may become your friend, or a Bittern will emerge from the brush and pose for hours. Perhaps owls will hoot, or even a flock of geese will land directly in front of never know. All I know it today I was lucky...and I loved every second of it.

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