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Photograph the Bald Eagles of the Pacific Northwest

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The rivers of Washington on the Eastern coast of the United States runs through some of North America’s most dramatic scenery; the forests are home to diverse wildlife species, including the Bald Eagle, the rivers provide a fantastic spawning habitat for salmon. It is the only large river system in Washington that contains healthy populations of all five native salmon species & two species of trout.

NaturesLens invites mid-level & experienced wildlife photographers to participate in a new photography holiday, which involves navigating the waterside territory around Concrete, Washington, by boat, to photograph the population of bald eagles that winter in the area.

A bald eagle flies over a river in the valleys of the Pacific Northwest

We have chosen this location carefully to present another opportunity for a fantastic bald eagle photography experience. The areas we will use on the Skagit River are home to nearly 1000 eagles as they feed on the abundant supply of spawning chum salmon. Throughout the duration of this photography holiday, you will be presented with many chances to capture images of the eagles in flight & in their environment, providing for you the opportunity to capture both wide-angle pictures & up-close.

Join NaturesLens on a photography experience that offers opportunities to fill your photography portfolio with images of the bald eagle. Based in the town of Concrete, Skagit County, we will venture out every day on boats to capture stunning photographs of the bald eagle.

The full details of this exciting trip are available here.

February 2018, join the Utah & Yellowstone in Winter Photography Holiday

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The snow covered landscape of the Tetons - typical of the type of image to be captured on the NaturesLens Utah & Yellowstone in Winter Photography Holiday

Join NaturesLens & venture across magnificent winter landscapes in Utah, the Teton Mountains & Yellowstone National Park, capturing a wide range of native wildlife on camera, including bird species, deadly predators & others, as they live side by side in throughout harsh winter months. Join us to photograph bald eagle, bison, bobcat, elk, moose, trumpeter swan & more in the dramatic scenery of Utah, the Teton mountains & Yellowstone in Winter.

We will travel between different locations so that you will witness the rich variety of wildlife that this region of North America has to offer, capturing stunning images that will benefit from the magnificent backdrops that these wintery landscapes provide. Book now for the photography experience of a lifetime!

NaturesLens invites amateur & semi-professional photographers to join the Utah & Yellowstone in Winter Photography Holiday, to experience & photograph the spectacularly diverse wildlife that Utah & Wyoming, & Yellowstone itself, have to offer during winter months.

A coyote, one of the best predators to encounter in Yellowstone - typical of the type of image to be captured on the NaturesLens Utah & Yellowstone in Winter Photography Holiday Read more

Ian’s images of the Bald Eagles of Alaska

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The Silhouette Of A Soaring Bald Eagle Over The Chilkat Valley Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

Late November 2016 saw the inaugural NaturesLens Bald Eagles of Alaska Photography Holiday to South East Alaska to photograph the Bald Eagle ‘Council’. The ‘Council’ is the annual gathering of thousands of Bald Eagles on the shores of the Chilkat River to feed up for Winter on the late run of Chum or ‘Dog’ Salmon. NaturesLens based the photography holiday in Haines, a small town on the Alaskan coast – & it would be difficult to find a friendlier place.

A Bald Eagle Perched In One Of The Trees That Line The Chilkat Valley Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

As usual David & PN had sorted out all the travel & accommodation detail &, in addition to their presence, we enjoyed the company of 2 local guides, Joe & Thomas, both of whom know the area intimately & are accomplished photographers in their own right. The omens were therefore well set for finding the best sites for capturing images of the main subject for this holiday, the Bald Eagles of Alaska.

The Famous Alaskan Passage Lighthouse That Greets Those Who Travel Up To Haines By Ferry Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

The scenery of the Alaskan ‘panhandle’ is the stunning product of glaciation – high snow-covered mountains & deep, wide valleys. We journeyed in from Juneau by ferry, which enabled us to take in the scenery at a leisurely pace & also to acclimatise to the temperatures (cold or, alternatively, bloody freezing, if you choose to go on deck at 0∘C when travelling at 15 knots). For much of the journey, we were glad to be scenery peepers from the comfort of the lounge!

The Silhouette Of A Soaring Bald Eagle Over The Chilkat Valley Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A Bald Eagle Soars Through The Wintery Air Of The Chilkat Valley Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A juvenile bald eagle attempts to steal a fish from an adult bald eagle - on the right - the juveniles go through several distinct moults prior to adulthood - photographed on the NaturesLens Bald Eagles of Alaska Photography HolidayA Quintet Of Trumpeter Swans, These Are Also Commonly Found In The Bald Eagle Preserve Of The Chilkat Valley Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

There’s not a lot of usable daylight in Alaska in November so, having breakfasted in our comfortable apartment rooms, we usually set out soon after 7am to get to the prime Bald Eagle viewing sites. We became intimately familiar with the ‘pull-outs’ on the Highway North West of Haines. One because it was a good starting site & a second because it had a loo (don’t get too excited – no water, no heating, no warm seat (unless you got in fast after the last occupant!)).

The daily morning challenge became to balance high ISO against available light to get images which were not too grainy, but in which the birds were sharp. Later as the light improved, the sites were beautifully side lit by sunrise, leading to some stunning golden tinged imagery. The hunt was always on for the iconic images – low flying over the river with wing-tip grazing the water, the mid-air ‘L’ shape, & the fights over fish. We moved around freely, picking sites down at water level or alternatively high on the bank to get the best vantage points. There was sufficient space for everyone, even when organised groups converged with the many independent photographers on a particular highlight.

A Pair Of Trumpeter Swans Attempt A Take Off From The Chilly Waters Of The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A Portrait Of One Of The Chilkat Valley Bald Eagles Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A Pair Of Bald Eagle Squabble Over A Fish In The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

The weather varied from dry & bright to overcast to falling snow. The latter was particularly challenging as, whilst it gave us atmospheric images, autofocus tended to lock onto the snowflakes rather than the birds. On the other hand, we had some star birds that took up a stance in a nearby tree at an accessible height, & were very tolerant of the surrounding throng on cameras.

As the good light was generally over by 2pm (it was dark by 4pm), lunch was usually a snack & the evening meal was taken early in keeping with American custom.

It was off-peak season in Haines so the choice of eateries was limited but nonetheless no disappointment. Of course, the cuisine leaned towards archetypal American influenced international, but a local Bakery became a firm favourite with both a Thai & American menu. The fact that it’s run by a crazy, fun Thai lady was the added bonus. We were there for the Thanksgiving weekend – a family holiday with most of the shops closed. Nevertheless, the Bakery whipped up a takeaway Thanksgiving Supper for us, & the hotel kindly let us use a Conference Room so we could sit down together. A further highlight for the connoisseur of international imbibition, was the micro-brewery right next door to the hotel. A peculiarity of local licensing laws was that it could not operate as a bar; however, it was permitted to allow ‘tasting’ so long as no-one consumed more than the equivalent of 3 pints in any 12 hour period! There’s also a gin distillery but we never quite made it that far.

A Bald Eagle Touches The Tips Of One Wing In The Frozen Waters Of The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A Bald Eagle Flies Gracefully Above The Waters Of The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday Eyes Focused On Target, The Bald Eagle Is A Formidable Bird When In Flight Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

The photography was not all about bald eagles though; some of the group took the opportunity to travel over the border into Canada & the Yukon interior where there was plenty of opportunity for landscapes & cloudscapes, & we even came across 3 moose, although the grab shots did not do them justice.

The Snowscapes Of British Columbia, Located Just A Few Miles Over The Border From The Normal Locations That We Made Use Of Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

There is also the Kroschel Wildlife Sanctuary, with examples of Alaskan fauna such as Red Fox, Grizzly Bear, Wolverine, Wolf, Pine Marten & Silver Fox. The animals are all orphans or rescue who would otherwise not have had a future. They live in large free-range enclosures & are habituated to their handler, but other than that they are ‘wild’ & many have been stars in wildlife documentaries. The enclosures are constructed to facilitate photography & this was a good opportunity to get close to animals that are either seldom seen or only from afar.

A Red Tailed Hawk Who Now Lives At The Kroschel Wildlife Centre Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday One Of The Pine Martins Who Are Now Resident At The Kroschel Wildlife Centre Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday Jpg An Orphaned Red Fox, Named Isis, Who Now Lives At The Kroschel Wildlife Centre Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

Our departure day was due to include half a day’s photography before a charter flight out to Juneau. However, an imminent storm meant we were called urgently to the airport & managed to ‘escape’ shortly before the weather arrived, dumping over a foot of snow.

I mentioned this was the inaugural Bald Eagles of Alaska photography tour, the implication being that there will be others. David & PN have confirmed this, although the dates are not yet set. Nevertheless, if you’re interested in capturing these iconic birds, in a stunning location & a fun atmosphere, let them know.

Events

Bald Eagles of the Pacific Northwest Photography Holiday

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A bald eagle flies over a river in the valleys of the Pacific Northwest

The rivers of Washington on the Eastern coast of the United States runs through some of North America’s most dramatic scenery; the forests are home to diverse wildlife species, including the Bald Eagle, the rivers provide a fantastic spawning habitat for salmon. It is the only large river system in Washington that contains healthy populations of all five native salmon species & two species of trout.

NaturesLens invites mid-level & experienced wildlife photographers to participate in a new photography holiday, which involves navigating the waterside territory around Concrete, Washington, by boat, to photograph the population of bald eagles that winter in the area.

A bald eagle flies over a river in the valleys of the Pacific Northwest

We have chosen this location carefully to present another opportunity for a fantastic bald eagle photography experience. The areas we will use on the Skagit River are home to nearly 1000 eagles as they feed on the abundant supply of spawning chum salmon. Throughout the duration of this photography holiday, you will be presented with many chances to capture images of the eagles in flight & in their environment, providing for you the opportunity to capture both wide-angle pictures & up-close.

Join NaturesLens on a photography experience that offers opportunities to fill your photography portfolio with images of the bald eagle. Based in the town of Concrete, Skagit County, we will venture out every day on boats to capture stunning photographs of the bald eagle.

A pair of bald eagles fight for food over the bank of a river in the valleys of the Pacific Northwest

We intend making use of both the Skagit & Nooksack Rivers, both of which are different from one & other, both offering fantastic views of both the majestic eagles & beautiful scenery. The eagle is the national bird of the USA for a reason; they are strong, majestic & impressive, the ultimate predator of the sky, making them the perfect subject for adventurous wildlife photographers. Coupled to the dramatic landscapes that border the river, there is a very photogenic setting, the bald eagles & other wildlife makes for some unique photographic opportunities.

A bald eagle perched in a tree in one of the valleys of the Pacific Northwest

Throughout the trip you will have abundant opportunities to capture images of bald eagles perched in the trees, diving & fighting for fish, or soaring overhead as they scour the ground below for their next meal. A guide from NaturesLens will offer photography guidance whilst on the boats, enabling you to capture both close up shots, highlighting their beady eyes & dramatic features, & wide-angle shots which take in eagles alongside other bird species within the outstanding landscape which surrounds them.

A pair of bald eagles squabble over the bank of a river in the valleys of the Pacific Northwest

The schedule for this trip has been designed to allow you to make the most of the photography opportunities available in the area. This includes 5 days of photography sessions specifically targeting bald eagles on the Skagit & Nooksack Rivers, with guidance available to help you tailor your technique to obtain the best images within a challenging environment. The river supports one of the largest wintering bald eagle populations in the continental United States. The eagles feed on Chum & Coho salmon that have returned to spawn in the Skagit & its tributaries. The eagles arrive in late October or early November & stay into February. The sight of hundreds of birds perched in trees that line the river waiting for their chance to catch fish is truly remarkable.

For one day during the trip, you will be presented with opportunities to capture some of the best images of the fantastic landscapes of North Cascades, led by a local photographer, who has been photographing the North Cascades for nearly thirty years. Our local guide will lead you to some of his favourite winter locations in the vast wilderness of conifer-clad mountains, glaciers & lakes. Every opportunity will enable you to capture a facet of this alpine landscape.

Your photography holiday includes transfers between Seattle Tacoma Airport & Concrete, all transfers during the trip, 6 full days photography on the Skagit & Nooksack rivers, & accommodation for 7 nights on a dinner, bed & breakfast basis in the Concrete area of Washington state.
Join NaturesLens for on a unique photography excursion into the wilderness of North America, capturing beautiful images of the impressive bald eagle as it thrives in its picturesque natural habitat. We can only offer a select few people this opportunity each year, so book early to avoid missing out.

David Miles, our photography guide will lead you through out, providing tuition as needed & helping you develop your skills. He will help you shoot these birds in wide & close up shots; capturing them in movement whilst feeding & fighting for fish, interacting with each other or in flight with the impressive backdrop provided by the rivers & surrounding snow-capped mountains.

Our group numbers are strictly limited to allow for the highest quality experience for everyone involved, & as this photography is seasonal we can only offer this trip to a small number of lucky individuals each year. Book early to avoid disappointment!

The price for this photography holiday is £2999 per person. Group size is up to 3 clients, this ensures that David Miles, our NaturesLens Guide, can give a one-to-one tuition if requested.

Bald Eagles of the Pacific Northwest Photography Holiday Itinerary

Day 1 – Flight to USA – transfer to Concrete – overnight Concrete
Day 2 – 7 – Full days of Eagle Photography via river boat trips – overnight Concrete
Day 8 – Transfer to Seattle Tacoma Airport – Flight from USA

WORKSHOP AVAILABILITY

Maximum 3 clients per guide – Spaces available

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT

This list is a guide on what to take on the tour. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the items listed as it wouldn’t all fit in your luggage /camera bag anyway! Items in BOLD are classed as essentials.

Camera Equipment:

  • Digital Camera Body.
  • Spare digital camera body.
  • Telephoto lens – no shorter than 200mm, but 300mm or longer is advisable. If you have a 400, 500 or 600mm lens,bring it!
  • 1.4x Teleconverter/Extender.  If you have to buy one for this for the trip, please make sure you get one that works with your telephoto lens. If the longest lens you have is 200mm, a teleconverter/extender is essential.
  • 2.0x teleconverter /extender.  Again, if you have to buy one for this trip, please make sure you get one that works with your telephoto lens.
  • 70-200mm.
  • 24-105mm or another wide angle lens.
  • Sturdy tripod with a gimbal type tripod head is advised.
  • Right angled viewfinder.
  • Spare memory cards.
  • Spare batteries.
  • Battery charger.
  • Lens cleaning cloth.
  • Small lightweight towel for drying wet gear and handsCamera and lens waterproof cover (clear thin plastic bags also work well to protect lenses and camera from snow).
  • Card reader.
  • Laptop or another type of storage device.

Camera & Lens Recommendations:

Cropped Sensor:

In general, a 500mm lens can prove too much. The ideal lens would be 300mm + 1.4x converter or/and 100-400mm f5.6 Canon or 200-400mm f4 Nikon, Nikon 80-400mm f5,6.

Full frame sensor: 

In general 500mm, but optimal would be 400mm plus 1.4x converter or 300mm with 1.4x and 2x converter.

Clothing:

  • Good thermal underwear, long-johns and long sleeved thermal under-shirts
  • Warm quilted trousers, like the ones used for skiing, but not loud colors that could alarm the wildlife
  • Waterproof over-trousers 
  • A down jacket or waterproof jacket with a thick warm fleece under it
  • Snow/Thermal Boots* with a sole that is good for walking on snow and ice
  • Snow studs/spikes – nothing too elaborate. Just something to give you extra grip on icy paths
  • Thick warm socks 
  • Warm hat or hood on your jacket
  • Balaclava or snood
  • Silk gloves/Thin pair of thermal gloves, with rubber grip on the fingers and palm, or the fingers cut away, so that you can operate your camera with them on
  • A second, larger pair of over-gloves are sometimes useful, especially if your under-gloves are fingerless
  • Polar Fleeces, three or four if possible, as there are few hotels with facilities to wash your clothes
  • Thin fleeces or mid-shirts, to make adjusting to various conditions easier
  • Hand Warmers and Foot Warmers (that go inside your boots)

ADDITIONAL NOTES

NaturesLens photography holidays include only the travel stated on the event page, flights of any nature are not included. Flight details, where applicable, are made available to clients in plenty of time to allow for booking at the best prices available.

The photography holiday itinerary is subject to change & is to be considered provisional.

NaturesLens photography holidays require a minimum number of participants, if sufficient photography holiday places are not sold the photography holiday may not be run, this photography holiday has a minimum participant level of 3 plus NaturesLens guide(s).

Not all mentioned wildlife can be observed & photographed at all times of the year, thus some activities may be considered seasonal & not available.

Unless stated otherwise, all NaturesLens wildlife photography holidays are suitable for single travellers, we design our holidays so that each participant gets their own room, there is no sharing & no single supplement.

BOOKING FORM

Bald Eagles of the Pacific Northwest Photography Holiday BOOKING FORM

All bookings are made subject to our terms & conditions.