Conowingo Dam, MD Bald Eagles
Traveling to Conowingo Dam, MD Dec. 20-Dec 31st. Any idea of how the Eagle activity will be at that time of year. Coming from Near Hanover, PA. Any other interesting Nature spots to visit in this vicinity only.
Also, any hotel and food recommendations?
#1. "RE: Conowingo Dam, MD Bald Eagles" | In response to Reply # 0
Tue 06-Nov-12 10:04 AM
I was there yesterday and could not tell you what today will be like much less 6-7 weeks from now. It is well known that the best months are Nov & Dec but much influences daily variation. Further, year-over-year variations are enormous though not well understood why. Eagle populatioons are rising but from my experience and memory 2009 was far better than 2010 & 2011. I physically fast-counted over 200 birds from my location along the cyclone fence. But I have spoken to other shooters there who have said they counted upwards of 300 that year. In 2010 and 2011 my high count was approximately 50. In each year I made the 100 mile trip approximately 10 times... perhaps I just was there on the wrong days (???). As important as population are light and where the birds fish and play. Yesterday was forecast as sunny all day and there was only thick cloud cover so, while I arrived at 7am I departed at 11am...short day. On Oct 24th there were about 30 eagles present (visible count, probably more by 2x) but they chose to hunt and play between my positioon and the dam (approx 600 ft. at nearest point). I shot over 20 events of adults and immatures diving on fish which is unusual (7-1pm). Unfortunately it was again mostly overcast so only 1 shot was of the angle and technical quality to keep. summary advice: dress really warm, bring a 400mm or bigger (and do not shoot beyond the island unless you have never shot eagles previously and do not want to come home with nothing to show for the effort), bring a collapsible chair, lot'sa CF cards, watch the weather forecast, hope the dam is generating electricity (this is what stuns the fish and causes the eagles to collect there over open water) and don't get distracted by other shooters in conversation. The best shots can be very close and sudden. My apologies for the long response.
#2. "RE: Conowingo Dam, MD Bald Eagles" | In response to Reply # 0
af4nc Nikonian since 07th Jul 2007Fri 30-Nov-12 10:01 PM
I've been twice in the last 3 weeks. Plenty to shoot, come early, weekdays better to beat the crowd. I'll be there when you are,
#4. "RE: Conowingo Dam, MD Bald Eagles" | In response to Reply # 3
Wed 12-Dec-12 10:23 AM
I was there yesterday and have been going 1-2 times per week since the season (Nov-Dec) began.
The numbers of eagles are down from from my high experience in '09. This means much fewer shooting opportunities. Also, despite my best efforts to select the sunny days to visit the weatherman is an outright liar bent on tricking me; at least 4 of the 9 days I have been there he forecasted sun within the hour and there was heavy cover throughhout the day.
The dam has also been running fewer generating units producing less stunned fish during morning hours. It is possible to shoot in the afternoon but the sun has dropped behind the ridge immediately behind the shooters placing much if not all of the best shooting zones in deep shade.
All that said it continues to be the best place to shoot eagles in the Mid-Atlantic.
#5. "RE: Conowingo Dam, MD Bald Eagles-weatherman" | In response to Reply # 4
Fri 14-Dec-12 12:12 AM
Interesting comment about the Weather report. Here in florida, the same goes for their lack of accuracy. No offense meant to the weatherman. But, I always check the weather before doing outdoor Nature photography, and all of us agree that the weather prediction here is 100% guess. If they say Saturday will be the best day, sunday is, or vice versa. Normally happens all the time. Unless there are periods of Constant Sun, or constant poor weather, the reports are generally terrible.
So I guess Florida and at least the Mid- Atlantic have similar Weather Reporting Quality?
#6. "RE: Conowingo Dam, MD Bald Eagles-weatherman" | In response to Reply # 5
Fri 14-Dec-12 11:51 AM
Does sound that way. The part that particularly irks me is the 2 hour (100 mile) journey both ways. Rise at 3:00am, drive 2 hours wait for the sun and the birds... only to get fair shots of the birds but without detail. That is OK the first 1-2 visits but after you have worked out all the shooting technique issues you want great, not fair.