Breakfast Bell for the Eagles

  • November 23, 2012 · 4:30 AM
  • This location is shown only to members

This meetup with take us to the Conawingo Dam on the Sesquehanna River in Maryland, north of Baltimore. Every day, the dam generates power for the grid. When they start generating, a warning bell is used to let people know that they will open the flood gates. The eagles hear this and come to the dam to feed on the diced up fish after they pass through the turbines.

Eagles soar overhead, land in the surrounding trees and electrical tower. They fight with each other over the catches they make (there is no honor among thieves!). Since there is a lot of food in the water, there are plenty of eagles, vultures, gulls, egrets, heron and comerants around to clean up.

IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS

At this time of the morning, you are on the side of the river. The mornings are typically breezy, very cold and frosty. You must be prepared for the cold. gloves, scarves, parkas, hats, hand/foot warmers, etc are all recommended. I have seen some people bring door mats and cardboard to stand on to keep their feet from getting cold. A thermos with hot drinks would be a grand idea. Snacks for the ride and during the shoot are recommended. Long lenses, memory cards, extra batteries and tripods are recommended! If you do not own them, consider a weekend rental (you are welcomed to return on your own the following day to maximize the rental expense).

LOGISTICS

It is about a 1 1/2 hour drive. We will carpool from the Herndon Monroe Park and Ride. The meetup time will help us to avoid some of the morning traffic and get there before the start of the generating cycle. If you are willing to drive, we will consolidate participants before we leave. Arrive about 15 minutes early if you can so we can put this together. Riders are expected to contribute to gas and tolls to help the drivers.

For those members in Maryland, feel free to meet us at Conawingo Dam! From Route 1 north turn right on Shuresville Road and left on Shures Landing Road to get to the observation deck BELOW the dam. Please let me know if you are driving separately. Be sure to check in with me when you get to the dam! Look for a lot of people with big lenses!

Google Map: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Conowingo+Dam,+8,+Oakwood,+Cecil,+Maryland+21918&hl=en&ll=39.652954,-76.173921&spn=0.01999,0.049567&sll=38.955582,-77.349061&sspn=0.161522,0.396538&t=h&geocode=Fa4wXQIdJbF1-w&hnear=Conowingo+Dam&z=15

Return time will be betweem 10:00 - 11:00 AM, typically this is when when they stop generating in the morning. The bald eagles and other birds find roosts to sleep off their food. We can discuss having lunch together so we can warm up and share our experience.

Join or login to comment.

  • Francisco Guerra

    I totally agree... This was a great shoot.. any word of doing it again?

    November 20

  • Michael Lennett

    Because of this past Meetup from last year I found out about the eagles of Conowingo Dam. It is amazing! Well worth the trip.
    I've heard that they are there through the winter. Don't know about summer.
    You will have to take the biggest lens you have (or can get) because of distance, but don't let that deter you from going.

    November 20

  • Brette Brooks

    John,

    Since I missed the original and see some great pics, I would be interested. Let me know if it looks like a go.

    Thanks for the great idea!

    1 · December 4, 2012

  • John Eppler

    BTW, I have uploaded several pictures on my website: http://johnepplerphoto.com/cono...­. I did not want to overload the Unexpected Treasures site with more pictures!
    Is anybody up for another round of Breakfast Bell for the Eagles??

    November 30, 2012

    • Izzy

      John, very nice collection of eagle shots and other photos on you web site. Impressive!

      November 30, 2012

    • John Eppler

      Thnk you, I try hard!

      November 30, 2012

  • Izzy

    Todays Washington Post has an eagle photo from the dam on the front page and series of photos online
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/l...­

    November 30, 2012

    • John Eppler

      I added a comment with a link to my website photos to the WP article!

      November 30, 2012

  • Francisco Guerra

    Does "Unexpected Treasures" have a flickr group? If not, why not?

    Just wondering.... Thank you again for the great event.... it was a pleasure to meet everybody...

    1 · November 24, 2012

    • John Eppler

      Yes there, I will get back to you.

      November 29, 2012

  • John Eppler

    I am very happy with the images everyone (or some of you) haveadded after the meetup. I have made comments on several of the images that have uploaded. They are ment as constructive critique. It is up to you what you choose to do with it.
    I can tell that everyone had a good time and I am glad the eagles cooperated to give you chances at good shots. I think at least one was modeling for us.
    If you are disappointed in the results of your shoot, remember that most people who try nature photography give up too soon. If you feel that your images are junk or poor, consider this: I shoot 308 images on on memory card, of those I delete 200 images as unacceptable to me. That's 66%! Of the remaining, I have 29 that are high quality images.
    A friend of mine says, "Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while!" Keep trying, review what you have taken and learn from your mistakes, try not to repeat the same mistakes over again!

    2 · November 27, 2012

    • Drew H

      Acorns? Where? Thanks John cause as u stated that trip was frustrating for first timers but i did learn a lot and now that leaves are gone i watched a few bald eagles at mason neck.

      November 28, 2012

    • Viola

      I learned I need a BIGGER lens! lol Most people wouldn't understand why we get up at 2am to be on the road at 4:30am only to get to your destination only to find fog and have to wait another few hours in hopes to get a clear shot of something you hope be recognizably to others. I don't know if I'm crazy but I found waiting in the freezing cold, my feet and hands numb, my face frozen solid, with the excitement and thrill that such torture could possibly produce one great image (the money shot.) Only a true photographer would truly understand the craziness.

      November 28, 2012

  • Connie

    I really enjoyed this meetup despite the cold and fog! This is the first time I had ever photographed eagles in the wild and am very happy with my outcome. I was very intimidated beforehand but now feel more confident in my abilities. I ended up with about 600 images of which I only kept 50. Many more were good just similar shots. Nothing as good as John & Art's shots but considering the equipment I was using I was ecstatic with the outcome! I look forward to attending more meetups in the future!

    November 28, 2012

  • Drew H

    Learned a lot yesterday. 1 - custom function would've been useful as i had a million hunting focus situations but i did just learn how to do that today. 2 - bald eagles have the most silly birdcall. 3 - vultures poop on feet to prevent disease from eating dead meat. 4 - my tripod mount would've connected to my lens after all. ha ha ha.

    November 24, 2012

  • Viola

    Despite the freezing cold weather it was a great meetup. Had some fantastic photo ops and some great laughs fellow photographers

    November 23, 2012

  • Debra Martin

    it was great even if we had fog...just good to get out and see others

    November 23, 2012

  • John Eppler

    Foggy at first, but the fog lifted and many eagles close enough for everyone to get great shots!!

    November 23, 2012

  • Debra Martin

    Thanks, had a great time today...even got a couple nice shots with my "little lens"..

    November 23, 2012

  • Viola

    Yes, it did lift and we got some great shots.

    November 23, 2012

    • Cindy Vasko

      Thanks Viola. Glad you got some shooting opps.

      November 23, 2012

  • Izzy

    Soon after you left, the fog totally cleared for a while and then returned again. There were few eagles and we got some shots.

    November 23, 2012

    • Cindy Vasko

      So glad for all of you that waited. At least you had a window of good shooting.

      November 23, 2012

  • Cindy Vasko

    Did the fog ever lift? Were you able to capture any eagle shots? I am returning next week and hoping for better visibility.

    November 23, 2012

  • Yvonne

    Me too, didn't see anyone yet

    November 23, 2012

  • Rajiv Alexander

    Hi I just got here but not sure where to park? I'm at the Conowingo visitors center

    November 23, 2012

  • Cindy Vasko

    Barbara Stampora and I will meet you at the Dam.

    November 18, 2012

  • Debra Martin

    Is there a reason for limiting attendees? Is it possible for people to go there on their own> Let me know, some friends and I would love to do this and have never heard of it. Didn't know if it was something that is done all the time at the dam or just on particular days. Let me know if possible or if not possible. Thanks

    November 19, 2012

    • John Eppler

      If you are hauling them, no problem. They will fit right in with the rest of the crowd. The reason for the limitation is only based on MY ability to help people if they are having problems. Unfortunately, I am only one person. ;-)

      1 · November 22, 2012

  • Rajiv Alexander

    This is the first time I am heading to the dam. Is there a specific parking lot where we can park?

    November 21, 2012

    • John Eppler

      Please look at the map link in the description for this event!

      November 22, 2012

  • Debra Martin

    hi will meet up at dam around 7??

    November 22, 2012

    • Drew H

      I believe the va crew will leave around 4:30 am so should arrive at damn by 6-630am
      Ill be riding with crowd but as a secondary contact heres my cell [masked]. Event host John has his posted somewhere within description

      November 22, 2012

    • Debra Martin

      thank you...

      November 22, 2012

  • Connie

    I shoot with a 7D and only have a 70-300 lower end lens, will that be enough or should I look into renting a lens? I think you guys are really going to intimidate me!

    November 13, 2012

    • David Crooks

      I took this with my Canon 7D and 70-300mm cropped: http://www.flickr.com...­

      November 21, 2012

    • Debra Martin

      I only have a 70-300 lens also...so you wont be alone in the intimadation lane.

      November 22, 2012

  • Thomas Izaguirre

    About what time is the ETA at Conowingo? I know the area well. Nearby is Port Deposit which has remnants of its rock quarry days as well as abandoned railroad bridge that skirt the dam. The plateau was once a favorite UE spot for its abandoned boarding but is since off-limits due to regular patrols.

    November 22, 2012

  • Izzy

    I will meet everyone there at the Dam. What is is scheduled meetup time?

    November 21, 2012

  • Yvonne

    I'll meet everyone at the dam!

    November 21, 2012

  • Izzy

    What minimum focal length lens (on a full frame camera) would be recommended? What is a good place to rent lenses, if needed?

    Thanks

    November 13, 2012

    • John Eppler

      Izzy, It still should not be a problem because of the higher resolution of your sensor. Images will hold up well even when cropped.

      November 17, 2012

    • Izzy

      Thanks John. Thats what I too was thinking.

      November 18, 2012

  • John Eppler

    For those of you who really want to purchase an ultimate cannon (not Canon) of a lens look at the Sigma 200 - 500mm F2.8 zoom with an extender to take it to 1000mm. If you have a small sensor, the equivalent maximum focal length would be about 1600mm! This lens costs as much as some new cars! It also wieghs 34.6 pounds!
    http://www.amazon.com/Sigma-200...­

    November 17, 2012

  • Brette Brooks

    Sounds like an interesting Meetup John. Sorry to say I will not be able to make it that day. But, as your description says, this could be a daily opportunity. Should be good through December I would imagine.

    Thanks for the great idea nd invitation!

    BTW, my Hunt Race pics. turned out pretty good :)

    November 17, 2012

  • Rajiv Alexander

    I do agree Art, with a 2x you will start to loose the auto focus capabilities. I use a 300mm f/4 with a 1.4x converter & even with just the 1.4x my auto focus speeds are considerably lower.

    November 14, 2012

    • John Eppler

      Typically, if you add an extender to a lens and it takes the maximum aperture to greater than F5.6, you lose autofocus capability. If you use a 1.4 extender, the F4 lenses will work, a 2x extender will work on a F2.8 lens.

      November 17, 2012

    • Art Cole

      I have a friend who uses 300L 2.8 with 2x to get 600mm.

      November 17, 2012

  • Imran

    Hi there.. anyone interested to carpool with me.. i liver near silver spring close to I-95/495 junction.. which is the route to go this event location.. or if I can join some one.. please let me know.. thanks..

    November 17, 2012

    • Todd Bolton

      I am in Germantown. We can meet somewhere. I normally go north through Frederick and I70 to get to Conowingo.

      November 17, 2012

  • John Eppler

    I notice that Penn Camera (Calumet) is offering 5 days for the price of 1 on all rentals over Thanksgiving weekend. Pick up after 2 PM Thursday, return before 2PM on Monday. Here's their list of rentals.
    http://www.calumetphoto.com/etc...­

    November 17, 2012

  • Drew H

    useful and interesting information about this place
    http://www.wildlifesouth.com/Lo...­

    http://www.harfordbirdclub.org/...­

    November 14, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Looking forward to getting out there. Thanks for all the tips about lenses!

    November 14, 2012

  • Todd Bolton

    I am in Germantown and will be driving. If anyone near me is looking for a ride, I will be more than happy to oblige.

    November 13, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    will depend on if I have guest for Thanksgiving this year or not. very interested. will confirm later in the week.

    November 13, 2012

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Start the perfect Meetup for you

It's quick and easy to create a lively community.

Log in

Not registered with us yet?

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy