Two hours with fog, frost and a four year old Bald Eagle

/, Birds, Davis County, Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, Utah/Two hours with fog, frost and a four year old Bald Eagle

Four year old Bald Eagle covered in hoar frost in heavy fogFour year old Bald Eagle covered in hoar frost in heavy fog – Nikon D200, f5.6, 1/320, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

This past week or so I have written about how harsh winters can be on birds in northern Utah and how the birds are often covered in hoar frost first thing in the morning like this four year old Bald Eagle I photographed in a heavy lake fog in January of 2010. This was the first image I took of the Bald Eagle that morning at 8:45 am. It was sitting on an old post very near the road and some open water. Every feather had hoar frost on it and as I recall the temps were in the teens or even lower.

Bald Eagle covered in hoar frostBald Eagle covered in hoar frost – Nikon D200, f10, 1/320, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
(45 minutes after the first image)

I have mentioned in my post “So ya think ya want to be a bird photographer” that you have to have patience… well some times you have to be a little crazy too. Sitting for two hours with a Bald Eagle as it slowly warms up and waiting until the hoar frost melts IS a little crazy, isn’t it?

Four year old Bald Eagle nearly defrostedFour year old Bald Eagle nearly defrosted – Nikon D200, f7.1,  1/800, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 350mm, natural light, not baited
(An hour and a half after the first image)

Sitting in a very cold vehicle with the windows down because you don’t know what might disturb the eagle or when it might take flight because it is right next to a road and traffic is going past the eagle is a bit crazy too. It was cold enough that my feet started getting numb and the hand warmers in my gloves may as well have been blocks of ice. When the fog lifted and the warmth of the sun fell on the Bald Eagle’s dark feathers the frost melts and the eagle preened and called.

Four year old Bald Eagle about to flyFour year old Bald Eagle about to fly – Nikon D200, f8, 1/800, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 228mm, natural light, not baited

After an hour and fifty-five minutes the four year old Bald Eagle displayed some signs that it would soon be lifting off because it pooped, scratched, shook its feathers and appeared to give us a stare.

Four year old Bald eagle in flightFour year old Bald eagle in flight – Nikon D200, f8 1/800, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 228mm, natural light, not baited

At exactly 2 hours from the time we started photographing the Bald Eagle it took flight at 10:45 am. We waited two hours for the Bald Eagle to take flight and I got 9 frames of the eagle from lift off to flight and clipped 5 of those.

Patience is absolutely a must for bird photographers and it doesn’t hurt to throw a little crazy in the mix too.

Yes, I am addicted to bird photography.



  1. [email protected] December 29, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Mia, now that is diligence with reward! I agree with Larry … if we have to suffer any addiction, let it be Mia’s bird photography. In Seattle, we don’t get the same cold winters but during our freezing spells, I have to be careful because I get so carried away I’m not noticing how numb my hands really are. Do you have flip gloves or mitts or do they let in too much cold?

  2. Dave Sparks December 21, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Wow! Wonderful series. In some ways the first photo is the most dramatic because the weather conditions are much more obvious.
    As you know, the craziness is expressed in different ways in Florida and other southern coastal areas: ignoring the mosquitoes, and trying not to forget to watch for gators and poisonous snakes. In the abstract, I think the cold and mosquitoes are a toss-up, but I have more experience with mosquitoes and have developed a strong aversion to them.

  3. Lois Bryan December 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Lovely, lovely!!!!!!!!!

  4. Sonja Ross December 20, 2013 at 12:21 am

    A great series, and fortitude on your part! Any tips on exposing in fog?

  5. Jerry Liguori December 19, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Great photos Mia….love ’em.

  6. Elephant's Child December 19, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I wish the world was filled with a lot more of your kind of crazy. I think, (I know) it would be a better place.

  7. Lynn Koch December 19, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Poetic story in photographs, Mia! and if you’re a little crazy then it’s of the wonderful kind. I love your photography!

  8. Larry Jordan December 19, 2013 at 8:01 am

    So true Mia. Absolutely wonderful images of the Bald Eagle going through its undoubtedly daily ritual in the deep of winter. Ultimately, we are all glad you are addicted to bird photography and conservation as well! Love that last image showing off the eagle’s multicolored tail. It just goes to show, one out of nine is all you need 😉

  9. Cheryl Valdez December 19, 2013 at 7:40 am

    I admire your dedication. The results of that dedication are simply beautiful!

  10. Carroll Tarvin December 19, 2013 at 7:11 am

    What a beautiful and thoughtful series of photos. Thank you Mia.

  11. Bob Bushell December 19, 2013 at 6:39 am

    Absolutely brilliant photos the Bald Eagle, I love all those photos Mia.

  12. judy watson December 19, 2013 at 6:15 am

    Just stunning, Mia!

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