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  • Writer's pictureDave Pidgeon

The eagles of Cononwingo

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

A bald eagle flying in a clear sky with a moon in the backdrop.
A bald eagle flies beneath an early Spring moon at Conowingo Dam, Md.

LOCATION: Conowingo Fisherman's Park, Conowingo Dam, Md.


EQUIPMENT: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM | Canon EF Extender 1.4x

THE STORY: The image above derived inspiration from an unexpected moment weeks before it was ever taken.


I was standing in the backyard, contemplating things like, well, life and its unexpected turns, about the journey I'd been on and the one I'm starting.


That moment, about 30 feet above my head, came soaring a bald eagle. Completely unexpected. The yard where I walked was on top of a ridge line and no where close to a large water source like the Susquehanna River, where you'd expect a bald eagle to be, searching for the silver scales of a fish to catch.


So close I could make out details of its broad wings, it's majestic face and eyes. It turned northwest into the sun, silhouetted against a blue evening sky, in the direction of the Susquehanna.


I kept thinking, its heading home, either to the home it knows and an eaglet that's waiting or to create a new one.


Either way, there's hope. It's heading home one way or another.


Amazing what the world shows us when we're paying attention.


One of the best places to photograph bald eagles (and golden eagles and gorgeous ospreys) is from the Conowingo Fisherman's Park, a concrete platform perched on the western shoreline of the Susquehanna River, right at the base of the expansive Conowingo Dam.


You'll be joined by many other photographers as well as recreational fishermen and women. It's well worth the effort and the crowd.


About four to six bald eagles soared overhead or rested in the trees up the ridge from the park. Now and then, they emerged into the bright sun, dove with claws outstretched, into the greenish-brown river water, then lifted back into the cool air with a fish.


If all was still and quiet, you'd hear the high-pitch screech of an eagle, which is quite something.


A three-quarter moon hung overhead, and by chance, I capture this image. I wish I could tell you it was intentional. It was, instead, a happy accident, a serendipitous moment when everything aligned - the eagle and its outstretched wings, the sentinel moon, the focal point, the steadiness of the hands holding the heavy camera and lens.


Keep on flying on, my friends. Whether your journey takes you to a new home or the home you know, keep on flying. Try to love the journey as much as the destination you hold in your imagination and heart.


Dave Pidgeon is a seasoned writer and photographer from Lancaster, Pa. You can reach him at dave@pidgeonseyeview.com.

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