It was one thing to be able to join friends shooting eagles in Idaho, it was another to be able to join a friend in a little boat to the other side of the lake where lots of eagles hung out. You see, most of the eagles in the area (counted around 250) stayed away from the traffic of cars, people, and pets. So even with the prospect of having to hand-hold a big super telephoto lens in a small boat, the chance to get closer to the American Bald Eagles with photographer friend Mark Schultz proved more than tempting.
Once near the other side, we saw 10 or so flying around. Then we counted 17 of them flying above before they seemed to disappeared a bit. Then again, we saw around 17 or so. Then it was 20 or more and we both had big smiles on our faces as we watched in amazement. And then, it peaked at what we guessed were 30 to 35 bald eagles in flight above us! I know there's a lot of them in some other areas... but for me, this was an incredible sight to see!!
Unfortunately, we were completely unprepared with lenses for that kind of grand scene above us. But at least I was able to make good on my strategy of catching one leaving the perch. I was hoping the bright light of a rare sunny day would make up for the lack of tripod (or help anyway). So I laid back in the boat so I could brace my elbows on my knees. It didn't really help for stability so much as to take the weight off my arms holding the big lens in an awkward position. This allowed me to stay in position a bit longer, giving me a chance to catch the eagles launching out of trees. In the end, I got what I thought was my best shots of the trip and I hope you enjoy the series.
Above, an American Bald Eagle makes the transition from vertical to flight after launching off a perch along the shore of Salmon filled Lake Couer d'Alene, Idaho. Many thanks to Mark for letting me tag along exploring the far side of the lake. It sure was a thrill - for both of us!