The first clue to the unfolding scene of predators and prey was the Bald Eagle with fresh blood on its white feathers. Our group of four photographers pulled off the road in Jackson Hole to study what was happening on this snow covered hillside.
Soon, we identified two bald eagles and a golden eagle perched on boulders. The golden eagle was much larger than the Bald Eagle, but as the scene appears compressed though the 600mm lens, you can’t see the size difference in the photo.
Yes, with binoculars we spotted a bloody carcass between the boulders with a magpie (black and white bird common to the mountainous ecosystem) currently picking at the carcass. The eagles must have had their fill.
Up the hill, watching over the scene was a lone coyote. He was likely the killer of the elk, who may have wandered away from the herd, not feeling well.
Scores of elk stay safe in a tight herd in the valley. It is also possible that a pack of wolves took down the elk. All these animals and moose too roam the national park in great numbers. Soon the bears will break hibernation and join the throng.
While we humans tend to pity the prey, we understand that all wildlife have to eat, and this is Nature’s way. We are privileged to witness it.
We haven’t seen an eaglet yet in this bald eagle nest, but we got a close up look at two good looking parents in Rookery Bay in their waterfront home. Nesting season begins in December or January in Southwest Florida, and baby eaglets develop in the nest for about 128 days. During this time, the eagle pair will be territorial to protect their young.
Another bald eagle pair can be found in North Naples, Florida in a cluster of golf courses that includes Royal Poinciana, Wilderness, Hole in the Wall and Country Club of Naples. This cluster of courses provides a wide region of Audobon friendly land filled with lakes, creeks and woods. It’s a great place to view a wide variety of bird species near dawn and dusk.
My friend Tamra is leaving for a cruise to Alaska this week. I hope she gets to see lots of Alaskan Wildlife as we did when we sailed on Silverea’s Silver Shadow in 2004. We loved watching bears grab salmon from the stream and eat them, leaving leftovers for the bald eagles near Wrangell. July is a great time to visit Alaska.
Whales were bobbing and breaching as well near Juneau, and in Sitka, we observed some colorful starfish.
As for me, I’ll be departing for Iceland this week, where I hope to photograph the Puffins as well as many waterfalls and volcanic landscapes.