I was cold and had decided to call it a day. As I turned toward my truck, I saw an adult bald eagle appear out of the shadows that wrapped the Haw River. The bald eagle was carrying a large fish. She was also being chased by at least 2 other eagles who wanted her fish. The eagle was moving fast. The 11 photos in the slideshow cover the 11 seconds from when I saw this bald eagle until she passed over my head and headed out over the dam.

 I watched the 2-year-old bald eagle break away from the group of eagles that were squabbling down river. As he climbed upwards I realized he was going to intersect the contrail of a very high jet. I thought about how ragged the eaglet looked. He was still using the same flight feathers he had left the nest with when he fledged, and there were now gaps as the new flight feathers were beginning to emerge. He appeared to be racing past the jet and I cheered him on towards a third year of life.

 

Jordan Lake Bald Eagle Gathering, the Haw River at Jordan Lake Dam. PLEASE NOTE: to get these photos I got no closer than 330 feet to the eagles – any closer and they go down river. 330 feet is the minimum distance stated in the Federal Register for approaching non-breeding eagles. These photos were taken at a distance of more than 600 feet. In other words, don’t go more than half the length of the riprap down river. Just don’t do it, please.
Every winter bald eagles become more or less communal. More or less. They will kind of share trees even if they are not next of kin. Sharing fish, no way! In the photos the 4 immature eagles are: the furtherest up and behind everybody is a yearling. The tumbling 3 year-old eagle to the left purposefully knocked the 4-year-old eagle off the perch that they both wanted. A 2-year-old watches the melee. If you would like help in getting the best possible shots of the Gathering, please consider taking one of my classes seen at this link: https://www.docellensphotography.com