Eagle-Eyed Adventure

I’ve dazzled you all in the past with my dramatic wildlife shots:


Berkley with his arch-nemeses, the grazing cows.


So when my dear brother-in-law, Mike, invited us to come with him on a bald eagle photo shoot on the James River, I felt pretty sure my trusty Samsung phone-camera would give me some great shots of our day.


The shores of the James

It was one of those glorious October days where everything comes together so perfectly that even though we were sad from Berkley’s passing, our spirits were lifted.


The most beautiful sycamore we’ve ever seen.


Michael is an interesting guy. Like his three younger brothers, he is self-employed. He is an equine massage therapist/trainer and an outstanding saddle fitter. But his true love is photography, in particular shots of birds.


There has been a dramatic resurgence of resident bald eagles along the James River in Virginia. Get this: in 1975, the bald eagle had disappeared completely from the shores of the James. Today, through remarkable conservation efforts, we have 233 nesting pairs of bald eagles.

The resident bald eagles are monogamous creatures living their entire lives in one territory which they defend mightily against any and all intruders.

It wasn’t long before we began to see them perched as high they could go on the immense trees.  Eagles have such a regal quality; they’ll come down if and when they’re ready and a not a moment before. When one did soar down to the river, the photographers began snapping away madly as I fumbled with my phone and reading glasses:


Are you not impressed? Here’s another of my spectacular shots:



I mean, really, between you and me, you have to wonder whether Mike is wasting his money buying all these fancy lenses and accessories:




But then it all becomes clear. Sometimes you get what you pay for:





Typical photographer that he is, Mike’s comment on this shot is that he clipped the wing. My comment is that this is wonderful:



Let’s just say I have a new-found admiration for what it takes to get a decent shot of anything non-bovine or canine. Kudos to you photographers out there!

I did get one other rather cool eagle shot from the captain’s stash of educational props. No wonder we’ve seen a resurgence in population. Yikes.


And how often does it happen that an out-of-towner (Mike lives in South Carolina) introduces you to something terrific right in your own backyard? We’ll be back on the James again very soon, I’m sure.

Thanks for reading,


About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. And the odd thought or two.
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87 Responses to Eagle-Eyed Adventure

  1. I miss Virginia! Thank you, thank you for bringing me home with your writing and photos.


    • Anytime, Catherine. And soon Delaware will weave its charms on you, as well. A dear friend lives up in Lewes and I really love that area. Having said that, it takes a good year, I think, to adjust to a big move like yours. Happy to see you back blogging occasionally.


  2. Franny Powell says:



  3. joannesisco says:

    Wow – what an amazing adventure!! I laughed when I saw the photo of Mike and his camera. It made me wonder if I could actually lift it, let alone try to take a photo!! I’m sure it takes remarkable talent, timing, and a dash of luck to get photos like that.

    Thanks for the perspective on the eagle’s foot. I had no idea they were that big!! I think I’d be more than a little worried if I saw one of those puppies coming at me!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Joanne, you’re right, those talons are nothing to sneeze at especially coupled with the speed of the eagle. You could hear the swoosh of air as they flew by. It was incredible. Yes, that camera was a serious piece of equipment, wasn’t it? Made my little phone camera look pitiful!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Dianna says:

    I used to see a pair of eagles here on the Pagan (a tributary of the James), but I haven’t seen them recently. Those are amazing photos! I just love to see an eagle in flight…


    • Maybe your eagles weren’t a resident pair? They might have been migratory eagles? Who knows. They lead such rough and tumble lives constantly defending their territories against intruders. I learned a lot, really. And the eagle in flight is a magnificent thing!


  5. Your humor – self-deprecating and otherwise – is as wonderful as Michael’s photos. Great account.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a beautiful location Barbara. I follow a photoblog based in one of the Carolinas (can never remember which) and he often has bald eagle shots. Mike’s first two are excellent, loved that hood cloaked shot of the second, but he is right, he did clip it in the third 😀 Having said that, I’m in the ‘lucky if I get it in focus with my iPhone category’.


    • You and me both, Kate. He lent me a smaller, less sophisticated camera to try and I was a mess with the thing under the pressure of trying to get the shot. Training on a camera needs to happen in the garden, I’m convinced.


  7. Beautiful pics — yours and the BIL!


  8. Pat S. says:

    What amazing photos! The photography gene must run in your family. What a glorious day you had, too.


  9. Sue Mayo says:



  10. Whoa! I know a bald eagle sits about a meter tall and has a considerable wingspan, but I’ve always wondered about tales of them lifting small animals. I will have to reconsider my position!

    I actually held my hand up to my computer monitor and the image of your hand is slightly smaller than actual size if I compare my hand to yours. [gulp]

    Thanks for sharing Mikes photos. Simply stunning.


  11. Oh, you make me laugh. 😀 You took a lovely photo of the tree. But yes, Mike’s eagle shots are a bit better than yours.
    The bald eagle has an almost mythical quality to me, being such an iconic image of the USA. (I know how important they are because Sam the Eagle told me.)


  12. Berkley is showing remarkable restraint in pretending the cows are not there. Either that or is playing cow as well but not sure about all that grazing.
    Good shots of mother nature. How come there is never a ‘father nature?’


    • Ha! I think he was worn out at having his maniacal barking ignored. He never could grasp the intellectual deficit in our bovine neighbors. As to why no “father nature” which I’m sure was a rhetorical question but far be it from me not to answer…..I think it might have to do with the differences in the verbs themselves….to father vs. to mother? Just my theory…..


  13. Dianna says:

    I cannot believe this: as I commented earlier on this post, it’s been months since I’ve seen the eagles here at our house. I just glanced out, and one was perched on one of the pilings at the marina!
    No, I couldn’t get a picture…


    • WOW!!!! That is amazing, Dianna. I did notice that the resident pairs really hung out together; yours might be a migrant. Listen to me, one trip on a boat and I sound like I know what I’m talking about. Keep those eyes peeled now. I’ll can’t wait to see a picture soon.


  14. Barbara Stevens says:

    Wonderful to have an adventure in your own backyard. I looked at Mike’s site, what a talent. His appreciation of nature is evident. I will show this to my Eagle Scout.


  15. nrhatch says:

    Awesome shots! Especially of the cows. Moo! 😛

    I’m thinking that you might leave the Eagle photography to your BIL Mike ~ he’s got the right equipment.


  16. suzicate says:

    Oh my, Mike’s shots are fantastic. I can’t wait to show the hubby when he gets home. He just got a new lens yesterday and can’t wait to get out and use it.


  17. M-R says:

    You are a VERY FUNNY woman, Barbara: I was pissing myself from the first frame.:D
    But I have to agree that Mike’s shots are simply WONDERFUL. His site is packed with amazing shots, but not a lot else: whereas I should like to rave on to him. [thinks] Maybe that’s why, eh ? 😉
    That … object is quite obscene. I don’t know how you brought yourself to photograph it …


  18. Incredible shots! Although we have a pair of eagles nesting in our backyard we have never been able to get decent action shots of them since they only appear at dust and leave again at daybreak. While we have grown accustomed to their presence in the evening, it still is a shock to see such a huge bird in flight. And the dogs still are not amused!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am curious about these eagles of yours. I wonder where they go all day? Do they leave in the summer for up north or hang around all year? I so agree about how startling their size is. Not too mention the dang foot!!


  19. Jodi says:

    Oh Barbara – I am always so excited when I scroll through my reader and find a Silver in the Barn post! I smiled immediately when I started reading about you and your camera – enjoying your story and the shots – and then my jaw DROPPED and I GASPED when I saw Mike’s shots – WOOOOWWWWWW! Oh how I want to be able to get shots like that!!!!! Almost one year with my camera and hopefully a new lens this year for Christmas – one step at a time…… Loved your post as always. Oh – and by the way – I have you beat with a size (SIGH) 11 shoe (I can get away with a 10 with an open back LOL! but alas we are a big-footed family) – and I’m 5’8″ tall – and almost that around too!!! xxxooo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh honey, my sympathies. Size 10 is beastly enough to find but size 11? Now that’s tough. Do you use Zappos? And really, Jodi, I have such a new appreciation for what can be accomplished with a good camera. I hope your new lens opens up more great photography to you.😁


  20. This is a great shot photo! !
    US symbol “bald eagle” is great.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Betsy Jones says:

    Awesomes pictures!!! I can’t believe how large the talons are! They are so strong and beautiful….


  22. reocochran says:

    The eagles were wonderful and awe-inspiring, but Berkley was so precious. I am sure your heart is still hurting… hugs!


    • Well, Robin, I thought twice about putting him in this post, to tell you the truth. It made me feel better to show him again, I found. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • reocochran says:

        Barb, when I taught special needs preschoolers, I was studying for my Master’s. When I got into Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, I found that there were many success stories with children who rode horses. Does Michael ever have families who ask him to help with their children? I have a good coworker/friend, Amy, I have written about her horses, Lokie and Spirit. She has found out that being a long-time equine trainer, this is a very lucrative field. Just wanted to let you know, not sure if Michael would be interested. So glad to know more about him, along with his interest in photography! Smiles and have a wonderful weekend!


      • No, Mike deals with a pretty specialized sliver of the horse world – the show horse. He is hired by owners to give therapeutic massage to horses that are starting to show possible signs of fatigue or wear and tear; he saves them lots of money in vet bills by nipping problems in the bud. Thanks for this info and hope you have a great weekend too, Robin.


  23. Superb photographs..I would be jealous were i not so cack handed


  24. Wonderful posting! Almost feel as though I had been there. I’ll be sure and share with Michael…I’m sure he’ll appreciate your perspective 😉 Will look forward to joining you on the next trip!


  25. Sheryl says:

    Michael’s photos of the eagle are amazing. He really knows how to capture the beauty, power, and gracefulness of these birds.


  26. bkpyett says:

    Such sublime photos make me feel that I’ve been on a quick trip to your neck of the woods!
    I love the one of Berkley grazing with the cattle. Autumn is a magnificent season and the eagle is magnificent! 🙂


  27. Diane Ahlberg says:

    Amazing pics from you both- the sight of an eagle soaring brings chills and how much do we really know about their habits. The wing spread in itself is amazing. Thanks for sharing your adventure !


  28. Hi Barbara – $20,000 worth of photo equipment gives you some great shots, indeed! Now I want a lens like that because I’ve got eagles to photograph in my neighborhood 🙂 We’ve got both bald and golden eagles up here in Highland. BTW, those talons have so much power, they could crush the bones in your hand easily….


  29. Phil Taylor says:

    Wow! All spectacular shots! What a fun day that must have been.


  30. Hey Barbara, I finally got to view your blog via Terry’s computer. I just signed on to get future posts.
    Thanks for the ‘spotlight’ and to all of your followers that commented.
    Nature in all forms is a delight and I am so glad I got to share that with you guys when you both needed it.
    Love ya,


    • Hi Mike! I had no doubt that my readers would love your work and they certainly did. Many are photographers themselves….and have really cool photography blogs….and post on Instagram…..nag, nag, nag. Love you too!


  31. Parnassus says:

    Hello Barbara, Mike’s photographs are of course amazing and very professional, but I think that yours highlight the eagle in a different way. I especially like the one in which the banking eagle echoes the slant of that beam. What a marvelous day to appreciate this magnificent bird.

    You are making me realize how much I am going to miss Berkley’s absence. He certainly was a natural-born model and photo-opportunity. That top photo also testifies to your skills as a photographer–framing shots like that and capturing the exact moment are difficult accomplishments.


    • Hello Jim, I had a bit of an internal tussle about posting dear Berkley, but then felt quite clear that the alternative was worse….not posting the old boy just because he is gone would have more of a sting for me. He was always with me, Jim, every day, all day, right by my side. Max is more elusive and independent. He will be pressed into service soon and that will strain my photography skills for certain.

      So pleased you saw something good in that particular banking eagle shot, I rather like it myself. Thanks, Jim!


  32. dorannrule says:

    You did dazzle me with those scenic shots along the James….. uhhh the eagle soaring is about how I see our hawks. Mike’s shots are phenomenal of course. Breathtaking!


  33. Eliza Waters says:

    Mike is an awesome photographer – those shots we stunning. Thanks for sharing them with us!


  34. KerryCan says:

    Here I am, showing up late again, but I just have to say HOLY COW! Those photos are unbelievable!! I cannot fathom having the ability to take such shots. I love your funny, self-deprecating lead-in, too!


  35. Excellent photos of the bald eagle. Mike did a great job. Yes, there are times when I need to put my trusty I-Phone camera away and let my Nikon Coolpix do the job. Thanks for sharing, Barbara. 😉


  36. Behind the Story says:

    Wow! The eagle, the river, the blue, blue sky. What a day! You have to hand it to someone who can point his camera at a distant moving target and capture every feather.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Kim says:

    I love your friend’s photos of the bald eagles. I am afraid mine would look like yours….It makes me want to go out and buy a better camera!


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