OUTDOORS - Fly like an eagle around Lake Coeur d'Alene

The trees and skies around Lake Coeur d'Alene are filled with eagles, which make for spectacular photos.



An eagle carries lunch back to its perch.


An eagle keeps an eye out for a meal.


The Lake Coeur d'Alene Camping Resort is closed for the winter.


A cabin is reflected in the calm waters of the lake.

Editor's Note: Part one of this report about a trip to see the eagles at Lake Coeur d'Alene appeared in this spot last Wednesday.

After 42 intense minutes on snow-packed Interstate 90 from a Spokane Valley motel to Lake Coeur d'Alene, I pulled Nora the Schnauzer's sweater over her head and front legs.

She jumped out of the wagon at 8:03 a.m. and raced across a public boat launch and down the ramp toward the water.

While Nora explored, I counted two eagles soaring over the water.

Another one stood on the ice along the eastern shore. Its toes pressed down on a fish.

According to a nearby sign, "Eagles have four toes covered with spiny scales and ending with long, curved talons. When eagles capture their prey, they drive the rear talon into the body with more force than a bullet, and three front talons are then wrapped around the prey to hold it in place."


Anyway, with the temperature at a balmy 25 degrees, five degrees above the day before, I looked forward to photographing more bald eagles at Wolf Lodge Bay.

Darlene, who exhibits a differing view of "balmy," chose to lounge at the motel.

So, I plunked the camera on the passenger seat, zipped up a fourth-layer jacket with a hood and donned a fifth-layer down vest. I pulled on wool gloves and herded Nora back into the car.

Then, dressed against the chill, I started the engine and buzzed down the front windows, the better to be ready with the long lens.

Ideally I'd use it to snap shots of eagles diving with talons bared to pluck a spawned-out kokonee salmon from the lake's mirror-like surface.

But, heck, the pics meant less than seeing the eagles.

Oh, sure.

Watching for vehicles on the road and the eagles on the lake, I tooled along the snow packed, narrow and curvy State Highway 97.

Well, I did pause to snap a few more images of perching eagles in snow-dressed trees and scenes reflected on the water.

With the heater running, I drove three miles and turned around above Beauty Bay.

On the way back, Nora and I again hiked for half an hour on the Mineral Ridge Trail for her to do her business and for me to pick it up.

Then we rounded a curve and saw five eagles ogling the lake from two trees. I slipped into a wide spot below them. Perhaps they would sail out after fish.

Time to get serious, by golly.

I rolled up the windows and spread a fleece blanket on the front seat for Nora. I turned off the motor, set up a tripod in front of the car and attached the camera with a sweeping view of the bay.

Many eagles sailed out over the water and swooped for fish. A few sailed and swooped within range of the long lens.

Alas, when they did, a vehicle passed or I over-exposed, didn't focus or daydreamed.

I did get photos, though. About 200, and a few turned out OK.

Basically, I stood by the tripod with peeled eyes.

Well, once I opened the wagon and changed into minus-40-degree pac boots.

And once a retired local man stopped by and we talked. He recalled bringing his kids to watch the eagles. He also suggested local places to eat, including the Wolf Lodge Steak House and the Black Angus.

Finally, despite five layers and pacs, I chilled and wanted to sit. I'd taken about 400-to-500 photos over two days and needed a break.

Before leaving the lake, however, I checked out the snow-covered Coeur d'Alene Camping Resort (closed for the winter) and Wolf Lodge Bay Steak House (closed, period).

Then we met Darlene for an early dinner and a trip to the mall.

Darlene had purchases to exchange, of course, and I wanted another visit to the Cinnabon shop (six rolls with two extra tubs of icing for $10). Of course.

Contact Don Davis at dondavis@wwub.com. More of Don's photos can be found online at www.tripper.smugmug.com .


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment

Click here to sign in