Turkeys in Trees

This weekend was planned to be a time for trial and error. I’ve had my eye on the Canon 1.4x III extender but at the price, I wasn’t ready to just pull the trigger and add it to my kit. So I did something I’ve been thinking about for many years. Renting gear from BorrowLens.com. The extender came in on Thursday and I planned on testing on Sunday on a small trip with Dan from Megan/Dan Photography Who would have thought I would have been rewarded with two rare photo opportunities?!

Saturday wasn’t even supposed to be a thing. We had a wedding to go to in the afternoon (as guests) and since our girls were in the wedding, my lovely lady took them early and left me home alone. With the trip planned for Sunday, I was just going to stay home and either be lazy or workout by some means. On a whim, I decided to take a drive to our local lake. Just to see if maybe I could find some small birds or wood ducks hanging around.

Maybe it’s the Marine in me, but I am always super aware of my surroundings. I do this thing I call, “Looking for turkeys in trees.” Because one day when I was younger, kayaking with my mom, I thought I saw a turkey sitting in a tree above us. All I knew initially was it’s a ridiculously large bird sitting on a branch. I’m sure you already guessed. It was bald eagle. And it was feet above us!

So there I was, driving around, looking for turkeys in trees. Though I didn’t think it was a turkey, I thought it was slightly larger than your average hawk. I quickly parked the truck at the next parking lot 1/4 mile down the road. I took out my camera, heaved my pack on my back, and B-lined it for the edge of the water. All the goose droppings in the field couldn’t stop me. A large red tail would have been perfect to test the 400mm with 1.4 ext (making it a 530mm).

I didn’t even break through the trees yet when I saw the white feathered head peaking through the branches. My heart started to race like a little girl meeting Justin Beber. Wood ducks near by ran across the water to take off away from the large man in a bright blue coat slopping through the mud toward them. I couldn’t have cared less about them. Just don’t scare that turkey!!!

Now, it’s been my experience that birds of prey are extremely camera shy. It’s like they can look down the lens and see a large human eye looking back at them. But this magnificent hunter gave me plenty of time to take in its beauty. It sat there on the end of a broken branch, its head held high, like it knew more than anybody that it’s a badass.

And then with one leap and a flap of its wings, it was gone.

I was ready to go home. What else could I photograph that would have put that joy in my heart like I just experienced? Nothing. That’s what. But for some reason I decided to go for a little walk anyway. There were still a few hours to kill.

The damn was near by and I’ve seen a king fisher around there before. I stood on top but didn’t see much. But just after a few more minutes of taking some photographs of a heron on a noisy background, guess who decided to come back around to flaunt his majestic beauty? That cocky bald eagle. He was flying right toward me! He stayed and circled to my left as I shot away. Then he circled above me, filling my camera frame entirely. Then he circled to my right. Making fake passes at the water as if he were going to swoop down and catch a fish. I had all time time in the world to jack up my ISO and shutter speed to get ready for the grand finale. An action shot of a bald eagle grabbing breakfast!

But it never came. He eventually gained some more altitude and drifted off across the water. Away from me. Into the abyss.

What probably amounted to not even five minutes of shooting made my photography year. I was ready to go home. Oh, and that other photography opportunity. That’s a story for another day.



One comment

  1. Elizabeth · January 19, 2021

    Just last week I saw a few turkeys in trees around here. I couldn’t believe it! I took photos and I’ll post them.


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