The above photo is the culmination of a great day of bald eagle spotting. On the Virginia side of Great Falls Park, we were fortunate enough to run into local photography enthusiast Jason Lewris, and his camera and steady hand produced this image of a huge nest on nearby Conn Island. The small patch of white above the rim of the nest is the head of a curious female eagle who is guarding anywhere from one to three eggs.
A great day ended with an image we will always remember, but here’s how it began–on the Maryland side…
Candee and I received an email (about a week ago) stating that the National Park Service was offering a two hour bald eagle seminar at Great Falls Tavern, followed by an opportunity to check out the nest on the island. Bud Cline presented an excellent power-point presentation with a number of facts pertaining to the birds. Did anybody know that bald eagles have a wingspan from 72-90″ and generally weigh anywhere from 10-14 pounds? Likewise, their nests can be in the vicinity of 8′ wide and 13′ deep, weighing well over one thousand pounds! Imagine a sub-compact car wedged into the limbs of a Sycamore tree!
Before Mr. Cline could set up his spotting scope, we had already checked out some geese and blue herons, but the truth is that we hadn’t seen anything yet. With the scope on 25 power, we were able to see the golden beak and shining white head feathers of the female eagle.
Also, her mate performed a spectacular flyby over the nest, circling it several times before perching in a nearby tree.
Before leaving, Mr. Cline informed everybody that a different (and perhaps even better) vantage point was available on the Virginia side of Great Falls Park. We hopped in the car, and that’s where we were fortunate enough to meet Jason. Bald eagles have been nesting on Conn Island for a number of years, so this isn’t a newsflash, but when the adults start to head out in search of food for the chicks (sometime in March), the result is sure to please bird watchers of all ages.