Posts Tagged ‘eagles’

salt marsh trail between first two bridges

The salt marsh can be a nasty place in the winter.  Even on a sunny day, the wind can be harsh and the salt spray biting.  Regardless of the elements, my grandson and I set out on our adventure on New Year’s Eve along the salt marsh trail, determined to make it at least as far as the first bridge.

The trail was icy in spots and the wind was convincing us to turn back with every step past the shelter of the trees.  However, as we approached the end of the Canada Goose bridge, we caught sight of the first of four bald eagles hunting in the marsh.

eagle flying over salt marsh

Inspired to plod on, we forced ourselves forward in order to get a closer look.

eagles in the salt marsh

We caught sight of one on the next bridge.  It too was clearly fighting the wind, clinging to the wooden bridge rail with its mighty talons.  We ignored the pelting salt spray but the wind kept thrashing us about.  It became more and more difficult to just hold onto the camera, let alone take a decent photograph of our subject.

eagle on bridge

Despite the difficulty, we were quite elated to have had such a close encounter with such a magnificent creature.  Doing hard things has its rewards.

an eagle eyeing us from the bridge

Before flying off, the eagle looked directly towards us.   Wow.  We headed back, glad that we had dared to venture out into the marsh on such a windy day.

heading back from the salt marsh

Later at Tim Horton’s, I wondered if the bald eagles were having duck or fish as we enjoyed our soup and coffee .

Happy New Year to all!  May you always find the joy in doing hard things in the year ahead.

All photographs and text copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2013

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From their roosts high in the canopy of the forest overlooking the salt marsh, two eagles check the area for activity.   

Don't look now, but I think we're being watched.

While bald eagles scan marsh waters for fish and the forest floor for small mammals, they also prey on smaller birds.  With so many migrating birds passing through the marsh these days, it’s inevitable that some will be weak or injured, becoming easy targets.  Eagles may also scavenge seal and deer carcasses or steal prey from other raptors such as ospreys. 

Stop honking or you'll wake up the eagles.

Once inland waters freeze and eagles are no longer able to fish due to ice, they will seek open water or fly farther south. 

In the meantime, their presence in the salt marsh is a welcome sight, if not for creatures lower on the food chain, then at least for us humans.

In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence.

~  Robert Lynd

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sandpipers in salt marsh

Walking through the salt marsh, it’s easy to get distracted by the flowers growing along the trail and the small birds that flitter past.  Your eyes follow the sandpipers and kingfishers until they fly out of sight.  Even the changing color of the marsh grass can take your focus until suddenly you see them:  the raptors of the marsh.


Ospreys are unmistakable, even at a distance, by the manner in which they hover in one place as they target their prey in the water.  There are many fish here, some even breaking the surface of the water with their movements.  Once a fish is sighted, the osprey will dive head first into the water to get it.  They’ll do this again and again until they are successful.  They hit the water with such force that they can break a wing in the process.

bald eagleBald eagles have a more varied diet but still rely on fish for 90% of their diet. Unlike ospreys, they don’t dive into the water, but instead use their talons to catch fish that are swimming close to the surface.

Eagles are also known to steal fish from the smaller ospreys. Snowshoe hares, red squirrels, voles, snakes and ducks may also find themselves on an eagle’s breakfast menu.

This year I’ve seen as many as four adult eagles flying at the same time in the marsh.  I also saw four flying together last fall.  Immature eagles are brown speckled with white and do not have the characteristic white head and tail until they reach their fifth year.  There are probably some juveniles in the marsh as well.

It is not uncommon to see eagles in flight around the Salt Marsh Trail.  Unlike the gulls, crows and sandpipers, they are very quiet and will patiently sit on a roost for long periods of time.  It’s also quite easy to get distracted by the flowers and simply walk by them, unaware of their presence.


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