I subscribe to the 4 F's of bird photography; Find 'em and Focus Fast before they Fly away!
Monday, February 05, 2018
Eagles Weekend at Kenlake
Dick and I have been attending the Eagles Weekend at three Kentucky State Parks on Kentucky Lake for over 10 years - at least I have been taking photos there for that long. Each of the three parks takes a weekend in January or early February. The Masterson's party boat comes down to do tours up and down the lake searching for eagles along with water. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officers do a program on Friday evening and ride on the boat trips to help spot eagles. On the Saturday morning trip this year we saw a record 67 eagles in about an hour and a half.
In 2012, RROKI was doing the live bird program on Saturday night at Lake Barkley Park. The bridges across the lake were very old and very, very narrow. I always dreaded the possibility of meeting a semi crossing the bridge at the same time I was on it. In 2012, a barge ran into the bridge and completely took out a section of it. It took us 90 minutes to drive north and around the peninsula to catch the boat trip.
Now they have finished a modern four-lane bridge near Kenlake and are almost done with another crossing Lake Barkley. I felt much more at ease when driving across them this time. However, the clerk at the desk said that another barge had run into the pylons already, but didn't do much damage. We noticed that there seemed to be a lack of warning signs and lights on the approach.
The point of the weekend is to find Bald Eagles which can be difficult sometimes. "There is it, in the tree!" Which tree?
The best sightings are when the bird is perched at the tip of a branch or snag so there aren't any branches behind them. The immature birds don't get a white head and tail until they are 5 years old, and their brown and white mottling varies from year to year. I can seen why many people think our Red-tailed Hawk, Lady, is an eagle-this immature bird resembles her quite a bit, only it's much larger.
We had good looks of 2 nests. This one had 2 adults getting it ready for eggs. In the other nest you see the white head of the female peering over the edge as she sat on her eggs.
We watched a mature eagle catch a fish from the lake. He only got to eat it for a few minutes though...
...before a crowd of hungry immature eagles came in expecting to share the catch.
While watching 2 immature eagles perched together, we also spotted 2 adults flying in courtship behavior! Very exciting!
Of course, there were other birds on the lake too. American pelicans flew by in formation, but we didn't see large numbers of them at once. I spotted a couple Common Loons, but they were always too far away for a good photo.
Here is something new---a small truck looks like it backed down into the water overnight. A small tent was on the shore. Wonder how they will ever get a tow truck in to pull it out again!
I've been doing the RROKI programs for several years now, but this was the first time our directors did not come for the weekend. Three volunteers did it all. Here are our eagles taking a stretch while we cleaned out their cages. 77 people attended the program on Saturday night for the best view they had of live eagles all weekend!
We had a wonderful time, but I was really beat by the time we drove home again. A 2 hour nap, and I was ready for the SuperBowl party with friends.