During the middle of November we saw a spike in Bald Eagle activity at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Charleston SC. This is my view of what happened. It started with the gulls.
We had some unseasonable weather that week; cold, rain, and wind. I hadn’t ventured out with my camera for a few days, but by Saturday, November 16th I was getting cabin fever. I bundled up and ventured out.
Parking in the lot, I made my way across the plantation to what we call the boat landing. It is a lagoon on the large former rice field which is now a wildlife preserve. Two pontoon boats used for tours are slipped there. As I walked down the dike, I saw an unusually large number of gulls feeding on schooling bait fish. They were really going after them, but many of the fish appeared to be too large for them to swallow, so they would drop them back into the surf. I didn’t think too much of it at the time.
My wife and I came back on Sunday and decided to climb the observation tower in an attempt to get some eagle shots. That’s when I first noticed there appeared to new eagles in the area.
The above bird in particular caught my eye. Magnolia has a resident population of eagles, including some juveniles. But, I had never seen this one before.
We got several close shots at passing eagles from the tower.
We went home very happy that day. I came back Monday morning, and again started out in the observation tower.
Again, on Tuesday.
The action in the tower slowed down for a bit, so I decided to walk over to the boat landing to see what was going on over there.
That’s when it dawned on me what the attraction was for the eagles. They would let the gulls find, catch, and drop fish, then scoop down to pick them up! They were serving them up on a platter for the eagles. Pretty smart!
The action continued Wednesday and Thursday.
I came out Friday morning, and it was all over. The gulls were gone. The migrating eagles were gone, leaving our resident birds to their home once again.
Magnolia’s ecologist, Stacy Turner and photographer Guenter Weber sighted 10 eagles in the sky at one time during that week. Many photographers came out to get incredible shots of these beautiful and majestic birds.
I doubt I will ever forget that week, and I am extremely grateful to have been able to witness it.