Although I generally head to the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm for most of my morning outings, I occasionally switch my destination to another nearby park. I did so today and was rewarded with an encounter with two bald eagles.
I headed to Colonial Lake and Park, which is a mile and a half from my home. A suburban housing development surrounds the lake, which is just off Business U.S. 1 as it runs through Lawrence Township toward Trenton to our south.
Seeing several dozen Canada geese as I approached the park, I parked in the main lot, guessing I might have some birding luck if I walked all the way around the lake. My first surprise was a pair of hooded mergansers swimming and diving in the center of the lake. I had not seen them previously at Colonial Lake, and I had not seen any previously this month. A good start!
When I got to the far side of the lake, I came upon another photographer. We chatted briefly and I continued on before suddenly coming to a stop. Two big birds were ahead in one of the trees overhanging the lake, a few yards apart on separate branches. A quick check in my binoculars left no doubt what I was seeing: a pair of mature bald eagles. I hollered to the other photographer, and we each shot from a distance.
I kept walking slowly toward the eagles and ultimately spooked them, to the annoyance of the other photographer. I shouted back “sorry” and kept walking. The eagles had flown across the lake and landed together high up in a tree close to the homes ringing the east side of the lake.
From the trail, I took several shots across the lake and completed my circuit to the parking lot. The eagles were still perched next to one another, and I started walking toward the lake’s edge to get closer for a better shot. I was hoping to catch the two of them in profile, but as I maneuvered into position, one of the birds stirred and flew out over the lake. I snapped off three frames, and the best of them tops this post.
I had seen bald eagles flying over Colonial Lake before, including one directly above me last month. But never I had I seen them perched and positioned where I could take a decent photo.
I suppose I could whine that the light wasn’t better than it was, and who knows what I might have seen at the Pole Farm had I driven that way. Today the birding gods smiled upon me, and I am grateful to have taken a couple of memorable shots.