Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to the Conowingo Dam in Hartford County, Maryland for the first time. I first learned about the dam last year on WGAL TV 8 when Marty Stouffer did his outdoor report about eagle watching there. The Conowingo Dam is located in northeastern Maryland on the Susquehanna River just northwest of where the river empties into the northern part of the Chesapeake Bay. Conowingo is an electricity generation plant. When the turbines are running, large intake valves suck water, and fish, through the dam, providing excellent feeding for piscivorous birds.
The main attraction to the dam is over 11 different species of gulls and bald eagles. There are a large number of eagles present from November to February. Also present throughout the year is Great Blue Herons, Terns, Common Mergansers and Ospreys. Bald Eagles vary from a half dozen in the summer to 30-40 in the winter.
At one time yesterday I remember counting at least 18 bald eagles around me. Even though I did not get any good photographs (and I shot almost 200, most quickly deleted after downloading) it is really a great place to visit. The eagles soar overhead sometimes playing with each other while one fly's upside down. Listening to them is also quite a treat.
Not getting any good photographs was partially (okay mostly) my fault and partially the weather. The sun never really came out yesterday making the lighting difficult. Part is that I really could have used the new Nikon D3 and a fixed 600 mm lens (hint Linda, hint, hint). And part is that I just did not have the skills to adjust fast enough and pan well enough with the birds. All in all it was still a fun time and I got some much-needed practice panning the big birds.
Both images in today’s post are of immature bald eagles. The photograph at the top was shot shortly before leaving and is titled I am Not Flying Until You Leave because I waited with the camera set up to shoot him taking off for sometime and he took off a couple of minutes after placing the camera in the truck. It was shot at 400 mm (x 1.6 for sensor), ISO 500, 1/100 second, F/5.6. The other photo was ISO 500, 1/640 second, F/5.6, 400 mm (x 1.6 for sensor). I will get back in January and February practicing and hoping to get a decent shot.