Bald Eagles of Stuart Island - Nick Delany Photography
Bald Eagle in Flight

This photograph is an image of a mature Bald Eagle in full flight. The immense power of it’s shoulder’s and wings illustrated by the curvature of his wing end feathers from the power of it’s downward stroke. The majesty of it’s eyes, the fearsomeness of it’s beak illustrates it’s imposing authority to make it an instantly recognizable national symbol of the USA.


Story

At the end of a 3 hour float plane ride North from Seattle you arrive at the legendary Nanook Lodge on Stuart Island. Bute Inlet is home to incredible tidal surges and currents that will leave you in awe of the raw power of nature.

These impressive tidal changes are caused by huge amounts of water flowing through narrow channels and around the numerous islands in the area. When the tides begin to change, huge whirlpools, raging currents and ocean rapids appear out of nowhere.

Through these ocean rapids, schools of hake are migrating up the inlet and the young hake get caught in the up currents that damages their flotation bladder leaving them floating helplessly on the surface and prey to legions of Bald Eagles waiting in anticipation This becomes the primary food source for Bald Eagles during the months of June & July before the salmon migrations lead the Bald Eagles to move into their traditional hunting areas on the rivers.

Within 200 yards of the strait, you can witness up to 300 Bald Eagles at a time and 25 in a single tree alone. To photograph the birds we take a fishing boat skippered by a knowledgable local to ride the fast flowing tides. While bouncing up and down, we try to anticipate the eagle’s flight, the precise moment he will dive, factor in the light, wind direction, choose the right eagle and finally the boat movement in order to compose the picture at the correct timing and exposure. I will take approx. 400 pictures each 4 hour session and will retain about 10% to yield 1-2 photos worth printing in archival format.

Bald Eagles only attain their distinct plumage and coloring after they have reached four years of age. Young birds have a scruffy brown mottled appearance (see the above tree) and the female bird is always distinctly larger than the male.

Subject

The bald eagle is the only eagle unique to North America. Its distinctive brown body and white head and tail make it easy to identify even from a distance. When flying, the bald eagle very rarely flaps its wings but soars instead, holding its wings almost completely flat. Its hooked bill, legs and feet are yellow. Eagles primarily eat fish, carrion, smaller birds and rodents. Eagles are also known to prey on large birds and large fish.

Location :

Bute Inlet at Stuart Island , BC, Canada Stuart Island is one of the Discovery Islands sandwiched in between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland in the Johnstone Strait. This area is also the gateway to a majestic inland waterway called Bute Inlet.

Photography

Cameras : Nikon 610 FX Lens : AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 /ED VR Settings : ISO 2500 200mm f/5.6 1/1000 


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