"My Adventure of Photographing An Immature Bald Eagle"
Judy Royal Glenn Photography
Which is greater, the story or the photograph? I’ll let you decide. I thought it was going to be easy photographing the immature bald eagle; but the eagle had other things in mind.
My family loves to vacation at Lake Junaluska, North Caroline each year. A fellow photographer buddy of mine lives in the area and has photographed the eagles there. I drool when I see his eagle photographs.
He told me exactly which tree the eagles perch in: the big pine tree that leans noticeably towards the lake. He said he had not seen the mature eagles in a while, but he is not there everyday. I was at the lake for a whole week, and I was
very hopeful to be able to photograph the immature eagle.
The first morning I was there, the eagle flew away right as I was setting up my tripod. I really did not see him until he was half way across the lake. I knew to come in the mornings because my friend told me that is when he typically sees them.
A lot of people regularly walk the lake and know about the eagle. They passed by me each morning as I stood near the tree. Maggie told me the day before I got there the mature eagle had a fish and was toying with it on the branch.
The conversations I had with the residents were priceless, so I started typing comments into the note section on my phone. Two people within minutes of walking past me asked said, “Is he there?” The problem is the eagle did not know I was waiting on him. I was asked, “Are you waiting for the eagle?” Another stated, “That’s his tree.” I even had a man drive by in his car, stop and said, "The eagle called and said to be patient." I laughed.
After a few days of conversations and waiting patiently, the eagle still decided to not grace me with his presence. But I was vigilant and determined. One lady passed me and said, “You are really persistent.” Another said, “You are tenacious.” Others said, “Did you get your bird?” “You have a lot of patience.” “It takes a lot of patience to get good ones doesn't it?” “He doesn't want to have the same boring schedule.” “Did you see the eagle today?” “I don't know if it is on a schedule or not.”
The conversations changed to a comical tone. A man jokingly said, “If I get his forwarding address I will let you know.” Another man said, “It makes me want to come during the night and put up a fake one for you.” While another man said, “I'll bring you breakfast tomorrow.”
Silly comments and questions I got were, “Are you capturing the raindrops?” “I told the paparazzi to stop following me.” “You are not photographing the Lake Junaluska monster are you?” “I think our eagles like to play games with you.” One man told me he saw a rainbow earlier and said, “I would have hooked it around and brought it to you.”
Others said, “When do you leave?” “I hope he comes just for you.” “I hope it comes out for you.”
I told one family about the eagle and they were excited. They told me later in the week they saw him flying around the lake towards the evening. They asked me a few questions about eagles, and I did not know the answers. The next day, they had the answers to their questions because they looked it up on the Web. They were excited about learning about the eagles. The lady said, “You have changed the world. It's the ripple effect.”
A man that regularly passed me asked, “Are you getting some good shots?” I said, “No.” I then mentioned the eagle wasn’t there yet. He told me he was sitting on the other side of the tree. I thanked him then rushed over. There he was! Had the man not said anything I don’t think I would have photographed him.
The lighting wasn’t good, but I will take what I am given. I was so excited to finally be able to photograph him. At the time, my friend drove up with his grandkids in the car. They all got out and we talked for a while. He was glad I finally was able to see the eagle.
The eagle did not show up for the Forth of July, so I decided to go back out after supper in hopes I would see him flying in the evening. He flew away from the tree right when I got there. But, I knew another tree where he loves to perch. When I got to the other tree, I looked up and there he was. Out loud I said, “Oh my gosh!” I said this several times. By the time I got my tripod up, he flew away, never to be seen again that night.
The next day we were leaving, but I wanted to give it one more try. He was not there to tell me by. So for seven mornings and one evening, I only saw him once!