Over the years I have learned that this is the time of year where bald eagles begin to reinforce their nests with sticks, moss and the like. Soon, they will mate and so begin the three or four month reproduction process that will hopefully result in as many as three eaglets.
Both adults are active in nest building. Between meals and fetching sticks they may be seen perching in trees close to the nest site.
The Nith River eagles though appear to be building a new home in a pine tree not too far from the original nest – the one in which they have produced more than twenty eaglets over the past decade or so.
Last weekend another Cambridge photographer had tipped me off to the move up river. He had seen them bring sticks to the new location. On the roughly dozen visits I have made to this site I have either seen one or both eagles sitting still in a tree below the original nest and sometimes in the newer location.
The decision to change nests, if they do go through with it, is likely because of the fact the bank which supports the current spruce tree is eroding terribly. On a windy day the tree sways and with it the enormous nest. I don’t know about the eagles but that would give me motion sickness!
Even in inclement weather the chances of seeing these eagles is good. During a snow squall earlier this week I spotted this adult male taking cover. His mate had been perched for more than two hours without moving. Although the light – and the visibility – is challenging for capturing images I remained just to see what would happen.
Two days ago I was able to confirm for myself that the eagles are indeed building a new nest. Although it was nearer mid day when the sun is harshest – a nightmare for photographing bald eagles with their pure white head and tail feathers – I remained to capture a few images of them at work.
On another occasion the Nith River male was perched above the nest (although I didn’t know it). It was early morning and the light was perfect. From a distance I happened to spot the well lit eagle’s head amongst the green pine needles. I barely had time to take a few shots to check my exposure before he up and left.
Normally, it takes much more patience to witness these eagles in flight so I was pleasantly surprised. Within ten minutes I was hiking back to my car and looking for other subjects to photograph in nearby farmlands.
A fox ran across the road in the distance while I spotted a coyote on a driveway. By the time I stopped and turned around the coyote had vanished into a cornfield. I also saw what appeared to be a peregrine falcon too.
Still, I was pleased with myself. I look forward to many more encounters with these eagles over the coming year – and whatever wildlife I might come across.