Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Eagles of Homer, Alaska

Located on Kachemak Bay, Homer, Alaska is the southern-most town on the Alaska Highway system. Despite the recent uproar about feeding, Homer is still the premier location for viewing Bald Eagles up close and personal. Jean Keene aka the Eagle Lady, feeds the eagles from December to April in an effort to help them make it through the hard winter months. Though she is in her 80's, she is out there every day, rain, snow or shine.

I had no idea what to expect when I flew in from Anchorage. It was a clear day and the mountains were covered in snow. I made it to my hotel on the famous Homer Spit and watched the setting sun as it lite up the mountains and made them glow. Long-tailed ducks, Glaucous gulls, Common goldeneye, sea otters and of course, eagles, could be seen right out the window of the Lands End Resort.

This morning was a different story. A thick cloud cover rolled in overnight and the entire spit was covered in a layer of white snow. It was beautiful... beautiful and COLD. Bundled in my trusty thermals I headed out to the beach to photograph the eagles for the first time. In the low light shutter speeds were too slow to keep up with the birds as they soared and swooped so I pushed my ISO up to 1600 and found my shutter speed. It was amazing to see these enormous and majestic birds flying and perching.

Once the feeding was over the birds dispersed though a few remained on the beach, happy to digest while they watched us crawl ever so slowly closer to their position. One eagle in particular was extremely accommodating and posed for wide angle shots, close head shots and mid-range full body photos. He seemed to know exactly when I had enough of one pose and he would switch to another. I don't think a professional model could have done a better job. Once he was board (or perhaps when he realized his performance wasn't going to get him any more fish) he retired to a perch high on a rooftop to preen and nap.

I can't wait to discover what tomorrow will bring!

No comments: