Eagle Gets Double-crested Cormorant

Eagle N Double-crested Cormorant

I set out early this morning (3.8.2019) to capture a Double-crested Cormorant for a blog post I am working on. The Cormorant had caught a rather large Rockfish. All the images of the Cormorant attempting to eat the Rockfish were at 650mm and way out in the Guemes Channel. I wanted a good close up picture that was not from a mile away.  

I was going to photograph this Double-crested Cormorant if it came in closer to shore, but it got snatched up. This Eagle that was flying around overhead and decided it was time to share a meal with its mate. It had located the Cormorant and was hovering above it at about twenty-five feet. With a fast descent, it grabbed it and was off with the catch. 


The Eagle was having a hard time gaining any elevation with the Cormorant in its talons. It took a low-level turn and headed back to the shoreline.  

From where it was captured, in the Guemes Channel near Cooks Cove, the Eagle skipped the Cormorant across the water all the way in.

I was fortunate that the Eagle decided to head in closer to my location. Giving me a much closer opportunity and better lighting conditions for the image. Believe me, I WAS jumping for joy that this was playing out in front of me!

Then it happens! The wildlife photographer's nightmare, the loss of its subject matter.

When this happens, there are two choices; sit down and cry or take immediate action. I took action and headed out to where I thought it may have landed on shore. Working my way up a gravel road and looking for any signs of where it may have gone. I was getting close to the end of the road and decided to park. I would need to go take a look over the cliffside to see if I could see it. Fortunately, access to the cliff side was going to be simple.

This is where I was able to find them at about a hundred feet below. The nice thing was there were no obstacles in the way. The lighting conditions were fantastic for being early morning sunrise and limited cloud cover. This image captured with my iPhone was at the end of the shoot, and the sun had gone behind the clouds.

Just as I got there, the female had taken some of the Cormorant and flew off. The male stayed and finished up eating most of what was left. He spent a lot of time warning others to stay away from his catch. There were four other Eagles overhead waiting for the opportunity to steal it. But this male was letting them know that was not going to happen. 

I think they had a lot of respect for this guy because all he had to do was let out a call and they would stay away.   

The female came back after a while to see what was going on with its mate. The mate flew up to greet her and have a discussion. Not sure what that was about but it went on for a bit.

Since the male had left the catch, all of the others were back and ready to take it. The couple spent some time letting them know that was not for the taking. This went on for about ten minutes and ended with all the other eagles in the area leaving.

I had quite the morning with an excellent opportunity to capture this playing out to the end. I will say I have been fortunate a lot of times with running into situations like this. Hopefully this weekend I will find a Double-crested Cormorant that something else does not want so I can complete my post about the giant rockfish and the Double-crested Cormorant. The Cormorant must have been saying to itself I think I can eat this giant rockfish. You will not believe how big this fish is, and it went down whole.  

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