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When open water starts freezing over in the North, the eagles begin migrating south down the Mississippi River, congregating at locks and dams.  One of my favorite places to photograph eagles is at LeClaire, Iowa, home of Lock and Dam 14.  The lock  happened to be right on the way home from Iowa, so we stopped to see if there were any eagles in the area.  I had borrowed my parents’ 100-400 mm telephoto zoom camera lens so I was prepared.

There was a crowd of photographers lined up on the shore so I had hopes that there were eagles there.

Eagle photographers © 2014 Karen A. Johnson

Eagle photographers
© 2014 Karen A. Johnson

As I arrived, a white pelican flew in and there was the sound of cameras clicking and whirring.

pelican swimming

One thing that I admire about wildlife photographers is their patience.  They are prepared to wait for hours for that one shot or appearance of their chosen animal or bird.  In this case, eagles generally appeared in groups of two to four, every 15-20 minutes, swooping in, getting their fish and chasing each other in an effort to steal what they couldn’t get themselves.


In between times, it was fairly quiet.  There was some grumbling amongst the photographers as the lone pelican gobbled up their fish offerings, but eventually it swam away, satiated.

I loved trying to capture the interactions of the eagles, but not as many pictures were in focus as I had hoped.


Not being blessed with quite as much time or patience as the others, I wandered the shore and took photos of other birds and the ice formations when the eagles were sitting in the trees.

Altogether it was a wonderful opportunity to watch the amazing flying ability of these beautiful birds…enjoy!