This is one of my most memorable and cherished photos from our Alaskan adventure this past summer. We actually saw very few bald eagles during our three-week stay. The only opportunity that I had to record one was at Brooks Falls. Shortly after we arrived by floatplane, we hiked out to the famous falls area where most of the bear fishing activity is located. I was on the Riffles Platform, located about 100 meters south of Brooks Falls. I hadn’t yet been allowed up to the Falls Platform. (Because of space limitations, you have to take turns and are limited on the length of your stay.) There were just a couple of bears downriver, and I had already photographed them extensively.
As I was looking through my viewfinder, I heard the seagulls making a big racket of noise. Looking up, I soon saw that an eagle was swooping in to grab a fish from the river. I was only able to fire off a couple of shots and they all turned out too blurry. I underestimated his speed, and I wasn’t panning at the same rate. I missed a good photo, but I got a second chance because the eagle missed the fish! He quickly swooped back down and I clicked the shutter as fast as I could, praying that at least one shot would turn out clear. This time, the eagle and I were both successful! (Be sure to click the photo to see it bigger.)
Here are a few tidbits about the eagle’s legendary eyesight. Like all birds, they have color vision. Their eyes are almost as big as ours, but sharpness is almost four times greater. Thanks to two different centers of focus, eagles can see both forward and to the sides at the same time. What a cool trick! Their eyesight is so keen that they can spot fish while soaring several hundred feet above the water. And eagles are also capable of identifying ground prey moving almost a mile away. So if they are flying at 1000 feet, they can spot prey over an area of almost three square miles.
Marty says that it was a good thing that he stayed home!