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All photographs by David Lilly

The Eagles of Sheffield Mills, Nova Scotia

I have always liked photographing Bald Eagles. Sheffield Mills in Nova Scotia is one of the few, if not the only location in Canada where they feed the eagles twice daily for the months of January and February.

Photographers and Nature lovers come from all over to see these majestic birds close up - within one hundred meters. On any given day there are a minimum of 50 eagles.

January 24th - 25th and the 26th, 2020 is when Sheffield Mills had its annual Eagle Festival. You don’t have to come for the festival to see and photograph the Eagles, as I mentioned above the Eagles are feed everyday for two winter months. As a matter of fact I would recommend another weekend as there won’t be as many people or during the week would be a good. In 2019 there were more than 5000 people who came to see the Eagles. 2020 was the 29th year for the festival.

The Eagles are feed at 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM everyday. If you are lucky as I was we got to watch three feedings on the 25th. That was good for photography because the light was excellent on the third feeding.

If you are planning to attend you can park at the Canning Community Centre and take the shuttle bus from there. Also, at the community centre they host a pancake breakfast for Eagle viewers. Parking on the road beside the field where the Eagles are feed is very crowed, so get there early.

You will be amazed at the action during the feeding. There will be many great opportunities to get great photographs if the light is cooperative.

Here are my recommendation for camera equipment

 if you decide to go.

1.  A 500mm or 600mm lens would be great but found my 500mm was too long for many photographs. Of course you will need a tripod.

2. I used my Nikon 200 - 500mm lens for most of the photographs. It allowed me to get the acton. There was a lot of action left and right so it was important to be flexible with both the zoom and and focus on the fast action. I did see a few photographers with 600mm lens.

3. No requirement for a flash as the distance is too far (25 meter plus)

4. A good monopod for a long zoom would be an asset.

5. Spare batteries and memory cards on your person for quick reload.

6. Leave your camera bag in the vehicle or your accommodations as it would get stampeded with the crowds on the ground beside you.

7. Dress warm as it is winter. Rain gear might be a good idea as it rained on my second day - classic down east weather.

There are Bed and Breakfasts close to the event. Some people choose to stay in Halifax and drive to the event this is OK if there is no snow. I choose a bed and breakfast 10 minutes from the event.

If you decide to visit you will be amazed by the photography opportunities.

See my gallery of photographs from the weekend <Click Here>

Purple Finch

The Purple Finch is one of several bright reddish coloured birds we have in New Brunswick. 

Other birds include the Northern Cardinal, House Finch, Red Crossbill and the White-winged crossbill. We may sometimes get the Red Polls, but they have a lot less red then the Purple Finches seen here.

As you can see the female Purple Finch has no red at all making it hard to identify. However, this female was with three males. The beak was helpful in identifying the female. Pretty much the same as the male.

Read more about the Purple Finch <Here>

Nikon D 300s with a 500 F4 Nikon Lens

Finches at the Bird Feeder

I was lucky to photograph three Finches at the bird feeders at the same time.

I should say two species of Finches a Purple Finch, both Female and Male and a American Goldfinch.

These finches have been coming to the bird feeders for a couple of months. The Goldfinches arrive in flocks of at least 20 or so. The purple Finches the numbers are much less around five or six at any one time.

Both species like the sunflower seeds. As you can see they have a unique way of getting to the seed on the inside of the shield.

Nikon D500 with a Nikon 500mm F4 lens.

Woody-wood Pecker / Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated woodpecker can be spotted across Canada. They are Canada's largest woodpecker.

When in the woods just listen if the woodpecker is hammering on a tree it will be heard for some distance. This is how I found this woodpecker.

At first you may not see him/her it might be on a tree out of view. You may have to move around. Once they start a hole in a tree they are very determined and will usually ignore a photographer, but don't get too close.

The woodpecker to the right is a female. The streak running straight back from the beck on a male is red and as in this case the streak is black, so it is a female. Below are some photos of a male with the red streak.

Learn more about the Pileated woodpecker, click on the link below.

Nikon D 500 with a Nikon 200 - 500mm 5.6 lens