Rockport Eagle Rafting Trip

In mid December last year, my good photography buddy Rick May and I attended a raft adventure down the Nooksack river to photograph bald eagles.  The Skagit valley is home to a large congregation of Bald Eagles during the winter months.  There are several companies that give river tours where you can get up close to the birds in trees and along the river banks.

The morning Rick and I went was clear and very cold.  When we arrived in the morning the outside temperature was hovering around freezing.  There was a lot of ice covering the ground and the wind was blowing 10 to 15 miles per hour.  We chose to tour in a boat called a jet sled and it allowed us to traverse up and down the river several times over the course of the few hours we were there. When the birds were up in the trees they pretty much did not mind us going back and forth in the boat.  The eagles on the river banks were a bit more skittish and we had to approach them very quietly otherwise they would fly away up into the trees.

The peak viewing season only lasts from about mid December through mid January.  The challenge in capturing great images is the movement of the boat in the water.  All of the photographers on board had large telephoto lenses.  I was shooting with my Tamron 150 to 600 mm zoom lens. The motion of the boat and trying to hold a big lens steady is tough.  Most people will adjust the exposure to have relatively fast shutter speeds above 1/400 of  second.  Usually the f stop will be set to give you a shallow depth of field.  This will soften the background and make the eagle stand out better in the image.

Attached to the blog entry are several of the images I captured during this trip.  I hope you enjoy them and they encourage you to go and try these workshops yourself.  Let me know if you have any question.


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