Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Haines - Bald Eagles Everywhere

Matt has been very busy this last month with photographing the eagles that converge on Haines each fall.  Here is an explanation from the American Bald Eagle Foundation (click here for more information):
Why Is The Chilkat River So Special?
The natural phenomenon responsible for five miles of open water on the Chilkat River during freezing months is called the “alluvial fan reservoir”. This subterranean reservoir is a result of glacial activity ending 10,000 years ago which forces the water to percolate through coarse alluvial material creating friction which results in a warmer water surface temperature in an area that is, at times, five square miles. As a result, the water surface remains free of ice, thereby permitting the chum salmon to spawn late into the year. This salmon run is the last significant salmon spawning event in North America.

Five species of salmon spawn in these and other nearby streams and tributaries. The salmon runs begin in the summer and continue on through late fall or early winter. The salmon die shortly after spawning and it is their carcasses which provide large quantities of food for the eagles. This combination of open water and generous amounts of food bring large concentrations of eagles into the Chilkat Valley from early October through February, with the highest concentration being in November.
Here are the wonderful photos (I'll have to post them all over several nights as he is way ahead of me and I think the latest number that I heard was 500 gig's of photos!!!).

Dinner on the run. A bald eagle grabs his left over salmon in the Chilkoot river and takes flight.
Don't mess with me. Staring down the camera as a bald eagle holds on to his salmon dinner on the Chilkoot river, Alaska.

Adult bald eagles compete for territory during a salmon run in Haines, Alaska.

A bald eagle takes flight as a juvenile eagle looks on in the background.
A bald eagle lands in the Chilkoot river, Alaska with his razor sharp talons extended and six foot wing span slowing him down.
Flaps Down. A bald eagle braces for landing in the Chilkoot river, Alaska. Eagle can have wing spans as large as seven feet, and razor sharp talons that can produce 500 PSI crushing power.
Stretching out for a soft landing. An adult eagle slows down from his 30 mph cruise raise for a gentle touch down on a rock in the Chilkoot river.
An adult eagle tries to steal a salmon from a young bald eagle by intimidation. Instead of giving in, the youngster lets out a defiant whale holding his ground.
Attack on the Chilkoot river in Haines, Alaska. A juvenile bald eagle intimidates an adult into submission with his sharp talons extended.
Gliding along. This eagle with talons stretch out, is looking for the perfect rock to land on.
Territorial Combat. These two adult bald eagles fight for rights for a left over salmon in Haines, Alaska.
An in flight grab of dinner on the Chilkoot river in Haines, Alaska
Cuddling Couple. A pair of bald eagles nestle in a tree together on the Chilkoot River in Haines, Alaska.
A pair of bald eagles nestle in a tree together on the Chilkoot River in Haines, Alaska.

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