Watching an Eagle Hunt

So, if you follow my teaching partner, David Akoubian's, blog he told a story about us getting to watch something pretty amazing one afternoon when we were in Florida.

I'll try my best to summarize...

It was pretty nasty out weather wise.  We were riding along The Black Point Wildlife Drive on The Merritt Island NWR and we noticed a bunch of coots huddled up tightly as if they were on alert.  Then just a few feet from the car, a bald eagle flies right in front of us and makes a dive at the coots.  We quickly jump out of the car and grab our gear.  The wind is howling, but it is at our backs.  The eagle missed the coot initially, but he was one resilient  bird.  He pretty much hovered directly in front of our cameras.  He looked like he was flying on a treadmill.  The wind was so fierce and he was just flying and flying and going nowhere.  He was looking down at the water and every now and again he would swoop down for a closer look.  This went on for what seemed like a lifetime.  We started getting rained on, the wind was blowing the tripods, it was crazy!  Finally this eagle hits the water.  He is in the water about neck deep for probably 10 seconds, then he emerges with a dead coot.  Then he did a fly by right in front of us with the dead coot in his talons.  We never saw the coot come back up.  Best we could figure was the coot drown and the eagle got tired of waiting on him to surface, so he went and got him.  After we got back to a computer we looked at the time stamp on our images and it was over 6 minutes that we got to watch and photograph this eagle hunting, hovering and ultimately catching his prey.  

ISO 800, 600mm, F/6.3 @ 1/500th second

Hover over the image to see camera settings used.  Click the image to view it larger.

This is one of the images from that sequence.  This guy was on a mission, which he accomplished.

Image made with my Sony A77 II and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  All mounted on a Sirui Tripod and PH-20 Gimbal Head.