It always begins when you least expect it. A heron flew past at an angle that suggested it was in a hurry. It startled the nearby merganser ducks who then began to make a hasty retreat. These are the signs I’d been waiting for. I stepped outside to scan the skies and lo and behold – an eagle soared above for a while before it began a descent towards the nearby island.
I had time to get my camera (its always by the door) and take some photos. I spotted another eagle as it landed on the same island next to three more eagles and I had never seen four eagles at once so this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to get some photos! The only way for me to do that though was to get closer in a kayak. Jenny was a bit reluctant to join me at first (the conditions weren’t great) but I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity so we got in the water and started paddling out.
Approaching the island revealed the situation thus far. One of the eagles had managed to hunt a large prey and was trying to eat in peace. The remaining three eagles were hungry and were watching, probably hoping for scraps. Two gave up and flew south. Things then got interesting as the eagle with the prey took off, followed by the remaining eagle (and several crows) in hot pursuit. Despite the large waves and my constant stress over dropping the camera in the sea, I managed to get a few decent photos but they don’t really do the scene justice. Watching these huge birds of prey this close was exhilarating.
After a long chase from island to island, the hungry eagle gave up and headed to the east. The eagle with the prey was finally able to eat in peace and found a nice rocky island to do so. We stayed for a while and watched for a bit before heading back home. Winds had picked up slightly but we had tailwind so getting back was nice and relaxing after having followed the eagles that afternoon.
It is rare to experience these kind of moments, and I am always humbled by them. Watching these impressive birds trying to survive in the wild is something I don’t take for granted – life out here isn’t easy for a lot of the wildlife and the eagles are targeted and harassed by other animals due to their size and the threat they pose. I can’t imagine how exhausting this ordeal must have been for all the eagles but it was an incredible display of nature.