This bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was an amazing spot by H on a trip earlier today to go see tundra swans (Cygnus columbianus). We were driving along and she simply said: “bald eagle…”. Sure enough, off in the distance, this beautiful specimen was having lunch. I never would have seen it without her spot, and he stuck around and waited for me to configure a digiscoping setup at around 1000mm equivalent with a Fuji X-T1 to get the shot.
I’ve never seen a tundra swan (Cygnus columbianus) in my life, so after a morning working in the lab, H and I decided to make a run up the road an hour away to see them resting on their migration. They are huge birds as far as wild birds go with weights around 25 pounds and wingspans of up to 5.5 feet. Tundra swans make it through Utah a couple times a year from the Arctic to central California where my friend Chuq has seen them.
This year the unseasonable temperatures are accelerating the migration which normally happens in mid March. There are two events here in Utah as the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge will help people see the swans. This trip unfortunately, the swans were very far off (tiny white dots in the distance) and we needed some pretty big optics to be able to see them, using the aforementioned digiscoping solution.
These are not the best photos of tundra swans out there, but they are my first and these amazing animals can now go on my list of birds photographed. If you are interested in seeing them yourself, check out my friend Brett Prettyman’s (@BrettPrettyman) article in the Salt Lake Tribune for details.