It wasn’t long after I moved to Harbour Grace, Newfoundland that I first spotted one of the local eagles. He..or she; in fairness I will be using the pronouns interchangeably henceforth..ahem. He was flying high above the ocean across the street from my house. She was so far up that I could barely make him out but she was definitely an eagle. As I stood and gaped with wonder my neighbour called out from next door, “First time seeing him?”
“Yeah.” I replied, my eyes fixed on the bird as she flew off into the distance.
“Well it won’t be your last, I can promise you that!” George predicted, and he was certainly right about that.
Word was there was a pair nesting on the rocky shoreline just a kilometre up the road. Over the next eighteen months I spotted one or other of the eagles perhaps a dozen times. I can usually tell that there’s one around when I hear the seagulls squawking. They are almost always harrassing the eagles and chasing them off, something that surprised me so much that I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it happen several times.
Once as I was driving along Water Street I spotted an eagle flying abreast of me about twenty feet above the ocean. I slowed down to match his speed and gaped as the huge bird glided alongside me with her unflapping wings spread wide. His wingspan must have been, oh I don’t know, maybe five feet or so and she looked magnificent. We stayed together for a hundred metres or so before he turned away with a few slow, mighty flaps and flew off towards the listing SS Kyle. It was quite a sight.
In early May, 2021 one of the eagles landed on top of the telephone pole directly across the street from my house as my wife and I were enjoying our morning coffee. We had never seen one of the birds this close to the house before so I raced for my camera. I managed a handful of shots with my wife’s zoom lens attached and a short video as well, but my attempt to film the bird as she took flight was foiled by a poorly-timed glance down at my camera’s settings.
Just a week later I spotted not one but two of the eagles across the street sitting on some rocks in the harbour. One was a traditional white-topped eagle but the other one was brown. I’ve since been told that he was likely the eagle’s offspring, but she appeared to be at least as big as his mother, if not bigger.
I ran home to grab the camera and zoom lens but by the time I returned the brown bird was gone. I started clicking photos but after a minute or so he flew off to the other side of the harbour. What a spectacular animal she is.