When we arrived here, at Canyon Country Campground, we were informed about where the particularly great sights of the area are located. One of our favorite attractions in the area is the Eagle's nest, which is on the bank of Pine Creek, at Darling Run. This is a part of the Rails to Trails. We have spent a few evenings down there, watching the Mama and Papa eagles soar back and forth along the river, while the near-fledgling babies would bop around in the nest. It's an amazing experience. The other night we went down and the experience got even better, which I didn't think possible. :)
Our kids are staying with us for a few weeks, so we took them down to see the eagles. We're on the East side of the creek, which is really low now. I guess nothing feeds Pine Creek, except the water from the previous Winter's ice and snow. The water level is actually higher than normal for this period of the year, because of the high amounts of rain we've had in May, and already in June. Not complaining though, since this area has experienced three years of horrible Summer droughts. The creek is low, but it's still not dry, which is fine by us. We went to the usual spot along the trail, which is perfect for viewing the nest and seeing some fly-bys by Mom and Dad.
The nest was very inactive today, though. We couldn't see any of the juvenile eagles bouncing up and down as usual, so we took a very small trail that leads down to the actual river bank, just to get a little closer. In the pictures, you'll see that there's a small "island" area in the middle of the creek. We were looking at this particular area, when we noticed a very large bird "flying" horribly bad on the other side of the creek. It crash landed into the top of a tree, after a very bad attempt at landing gracefully. As my kids were asking "What is THAT???", it dawned on me that it was one of the baby eagles. I assumed that perhaps they'd all fledged, and that we'd missed it. The baby eagle, which by the way... is HUGE, sat at the top of the tree, just staring around. I took a few pics, but I wasn't happy with what I was getting. I only have a 250mm lens, and it wasn't doing the job I wanted. There was no way around it... I was gonna have to get closer. :)
I always carry my hip waders with me, since you never know when you're gonna find a new waterfall, which is my favorite thing to photograph. I kept an eye on the eagle, while I sent my son back to the van to get my waders. Soon I was starting to cross the river, which was only about three feet deep, at the deepest part. As I was nearing the tree that the baby eagle was in, I heard my wife yelling... "Ken... look out!!!". I turned to the right quickly, to see a very angry Mama eagle coming straight at me. I was stunned. I should have been scared out of my wits, but how many times do you see something like this? The Mama shrieked as she flew directly over my head, maybe four to five feet over me. I couldn't react quicly enough to get a good shot, but I'll include one of the blurry ones I got of it after it passed by. I also have a few far away shots from a previous night of eagle watching that I'll include in this blog.
After that experience, I kinda had a feeling that baby was being watched, and that was a warning to me, to not get too close to him. I had no plans of climbing the tree, or disturbing the baby at all... but there was no way I was leaving without getting a few shots. With the sun setting behind the tree that the baby was in, they aren't the best shots. I had to add plenty of fill light to get the pics up to decent enough to post. Normally I wouldn't post shots like this, but it was such a unique experience, that I just had to share some of it with you.
As I was nervously looking around, for Mama or Papa eagle to give me another warning, a Park Ranger approached my wife and the kids on the bank. I couldn't hear what was going on, but I guess he explained to Carol that the baby had FALLEN out of the nest. They had not fledged yet, but this poor guy had taken a premature trip out of the safety of his nest. With me being so close, there was no way that Mom or Dad would come get him. So I backed off and went back to the shore. We waited there for about another hour, but he just sat there. I'm sure his parents returned to him after we left. It was quite an experience. I feel that we were quite blessed to have witnessed it. :) We'll be going down again to check out the rest of the babies, and see if they've fledged yet. We'll keep you all posted. :)