Arthur River Sea Eagles
The Arthur River Sea Eagles. While it could be the name of a local footy team – perhaps it could even be the name of Tassie’s new AFL team! But forgetting footy for the time being, this post is about the actual White bellied sea eagle – a mighty raptor, almost as large as the Wedge tailed eagle and equally as spectacular to see and photograph in the wild.
These shots are all from the Arthur River cruise in the Tarkine during my workshops over recent years. The cruise operators have taken to feeding the eagles at a particular spot, meaning the eagles are very likely to be encountered. If you are lucky, as we were one time, the eagles actually followed the boat, soaring from tree to tree as we neared their feeding location.
The eagles perch on craggy old eucalypts, where they have a clear view of the goings on on the boat. Once the fish is in the water they take off and swoop down to collect the easiest feed of their day.
Photographing eagles in flight
There are a few tricky aspects to shooting these eagles in flight. Focusing on a moving subject with a long telephoto lens obviously takes some effort, but it is most important to pre-set some exposure settings so you can fire away. Firstly, auto ISO is vital, as the eagle will shift from bright areas to shadowy areas in moments, so a flexible ISO is vital. The next aspect is shutter speed, which must be super fast – at least 1/1000 second, and some of these were shot at 1/8000 second. The sea eagles also have a lot of white plumage (there is a hint in their name…) meaning over-exposure is very easy, especially on sunny days so its important to utilise exposure compensation too.