I went back for round 2 of eagle watching--this time with a teleconverter for my big lens. I usually avoid using the teleconverter because autofocus won't work with it, but I thought I would give it a try.
There were 3 eagle watchers working today: one at the trailhead and two out at the first view site. They had spotting scopes set up for people to take a look at the eaglets. I asked alot of questions and learned alot about this nest. The parents came to the area about 4 years ago and kicked an osprey out of this nest. Both parents are unbanded, so no one knows where they came from. One of the eagle watchers is convinced that the eagles would not have claimed this territory without the fishing opportunities that people present for them: the stocking of the lake and the "throwbacks" that die and float on the surface which are easy picking for the birds.
I asked questions about the Verde River eagles near Clarkdale. The cliff nest was not occupied again this year (second year in a row). The railroad people keep track of other nests along the tracks.
The eaglets are 9 weeks old and should fledge in the next 1-2 weeks. I continued around the lake to a spot directly across from the nest. I set up the camera on the tripod but the wind gusts were causing alot of camera shake. I settled in, shot some frames of the eaglets doing their wing stretching, practice flapping and attempts at hovering when the wind picked up. I read the instruction manual of the camera to figure out how to use the video feature (I've had the camera for almost 2 years!). Here is a little video of eaglet exercise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cUDw1NOP4M
A parent came to the nest once to drop off a little fish. One eaglet grabbed it and would not share with the other. By then it was 6:00 and I headed back to the car. I sat down to tie my shoelace and spotted what might be very weathered petroglyphs. I need to play with the pics on Photoshop to see for sure. The woods at the end of the second "finger" of this lake are worth more exploring but it was too dark today. Next time I'll spend some time back there. This place is really beautiful and as of Saturday, still open. On the way back to the car, I spotted one of the parents perced in the top of the tree. I got some good shots before it flew. Even though this lake is 2.5 hours from my house, I know I'll be back there soon.