2022 Snow Eagle Tour 1, 13-18 January 20222022 Snow Eagle Tour 1, 13-18 January 2022

 

Winter bald eagle action: capture amazing bald eagle ground and aerial combat images

Four afternoons of other diverse Nova Scotia winter photography opportunities

Small group (maximum 3 participants) to maximize photo opportunities

 

Thursday to Tuesday, January 13th to 18th, 2022

4.5 days, 5-nights | USD $2495 (about CDN $3300)

Price includes all hotels (single accommodation) and guiding

 

Click here to express your interest for this tour

(this tour is also be offered Thursday, February 10th to Tuesday, February 15th, 2022)

 

Going for the jugular - monochromeGoing for the jugular - monochromeAbout this image

The bald eagle on the attack from above was not making any pretense about going for the food: it had only a jugular vein in it's eagle mind at that moment as it got a little bit of a jump on the large bird on the ground. Some crows watch and scatter just prior to impact. This monochrome image was shot at Sheffield Mills, Nova Scotia, in late-January 2021.

My bald eagle winter tours in Nova Scotia

If you would like the chance to capture images like this, I offer scheduled winter 'Bay of Fundy Snow Eagles' tours in Nova Scotia. In the mornings we shoot eagles and in the afternoons we will usually photograph scenic coastlines and fishing villages in winter conditions. This site is just a short drive from the Sheffield Mills Eagle Watch, so is an afternoon stop on my winter tours. See tour information at my website: https://tendrelimages.zenfolio.com/schedule

Chicken farmers near Sheffield Mills have been providing scraps from their barns to eagles for 30-years. This was not some trick to attract photographers but dates to a time when bald eagle populations in the USA were under severe pressure (toxic agriculture chemicals were causing low reproductive success) and bald eagles were endangered. Nova Scotia had a much 'purer' environment and was used as a place to help rebuild US eagle populations. Farmers in Nova Scotia were encouraged to feed the eagles to help them overwinter and the practice carried on in the Annapolis Valley. While photography here is hardly a wilderness experience, Sheffield Mills provides a stellar environment to photograph cranky, hungry eagles that congregate in groups sometimes exceeding 100 birds. Eagles love to fight as much as they love to eat, so most days there is non-stop action with in-the-air and on-the-ground battles in winter conditions.

Image information

This photo was shot with a 560-mm focal length at f/5.6, a 1/2000 second exposure, and with the camera at 320 ISO. As with all my photos and digital art, it was

 

Join me, Murray Rudd, for an action-packed Bay of Fundy Snow Eagle winter photography tour.

This Bay of Fundy Snow Eagle tour is for the serious photographer who wants to pack in as much photography time as possible while visiting Nova Scotia. This tour is one full day longer than the workshop that follows.

The Bay of Fundy Snow Eagles tour is limited to 3 photographers!

We start each day with bald eagle action at Sheffield Mills Eagle Watch. After the morning eagle session(s) and a lunch stop, we will be on the road. Our choice of afternoon location will depend on the weather and road conditions.

My goal for the tour is that we also visit Grand-Pré to photograph short-eared owls hunting in farm fields (but be aware they are nomadic species, so are not guaranteed to be around), and the Atlantic coast to photograph the quintessential coastal Nova Scotia coastal villages of Lunenburg, Blue Rocks, and Mahone Bay, as well as Peggy's Cove lighthouse, one of Canada's most iconic photo locations.

While the eagle shoot is not a 'wilderness experience' (eagles are fed scraps from the local poultry farms), the congregation of as many as 100+ bald eagles makes for fabulous action photography opportunities in winter conditions. 

 


 

Eagle danceEagle danceAn immature bald eagle, the darker bird sitting in the snow, had just fended off an intrusion from the eagle in the air. Taken at Sheffield Mills, Nova Scotia in January 2020.

Above: the Bay of Fundy Snow Eagles photo tour will help you add amazing winter images to your portfolio!

 

Below: the famous Peggy's Cove lighthouse after a winter storm cleared near sunset

After the winter stormAfter the winter stormGolden hour fading to blue hour, just after sunset on a winter evening when a 2-day storm was just clearing, Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia.

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Who is this tour for?

This trip is suitable for enthusiasts from novice to experienced semi-pro photographers.

Our primary focus will be on the large congregation of bald eagles at the Sheffield Mills Eagle Watch; afternoon sessions will provide as many extra shoot opportunities as possible but eagle behavior will ultimately dictate our daily schedule (i.e., if it is 2 p.m. before the eagles feed,  our priority will be to out-wait them).

Physically, our outings will involve some walking in the snow. Conditions could be slippery in some spots.

We will be out on location shooting whether we have rain, snow, and/or wind.

Being able to embrace the beauty of a harsh environment is important!  So is good winter clothing!!

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Winter portrait of a short-eared owlWinter portrait of a short-eared owlAbout this image

This short-eared owl had just eaten a field vole in the late-afternoon and was a little lethargic as it sat in a snowy furrowed field. There was a ditch filled with drifted snow just a little ways away, so I was able to slowly slink into the ditch and burrow into the snow, getting the lens to ground level as the owl watched. Shot late in the afternoon in fading light at Grand Pre, Nova Scotia, in late-January 2021.

My bald eagle winter tours in Nova Scotia

If you would like the chance to capture images like this, I offer scheduled winter 'Bay of Fundy Snow Eagles' tours in Nova Scotia. In the mornings we shoot eagles and in the afternoons we will usually photograph scenic coastlines and fishing villages in winter conditions. The owls are seasonal visitors here, so if they are around we will also spend some time trying to photograph them. See tour information at my website: https://tendrelimages.zenfolio.com/schedule

Chicken farmers near Sheffield Mills have been providing scraps from their barns to eagles for 30-years. This was not some trick to attract photographers but dates to a time when bald eagle populations in the USA were under severe pressure (toxic agriculture chemicals were causing low reproductive success) and bald eagles were endangered. Nova Scotia had a much 'purer' environment and was used as a place to help rebuild US eagle populations. Farmers in Nova Scotia were encouraged to feed the eagles to help them overwinter and the practice carried on in the Annapolis Valley. While photography here is hardly a wilderness experience, Sheffield Mills provides a stellar environment to photograph cranky, hungry eagles that congregate in groups sometimes exceeding 100 birds. Eagles love to fight as much as they love to eat, so most days there is non-stop action with in-the-air and on-the-ground battles in winter conditions.

Image information

This photo was shot with a 560-mm focal length at f/5.6, a 1/2000 second exposure, and with the c

Above: nomadic short-eared owls often make the farmland of Grand-Pré, with its abundant rodent population, their winter home
 

Below: February farmland owl shoot at Grand-Pré (thanks to Annapolis Valley photographer David Elliot for letting me use this image)

 

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Our itinerary for Bay of Fundy Snow Eagles tour

 

Day 1 (Thursday 13 January 2022)

Arrive at the Halifax airport by 4 p.m.

Drive to the Annapolis Valley, check-in to the Slumber Inn (our base for next 5-nights)

Day 2 (Friday 14 January 2022)

Breakfast at hotel or local restaurant

Morning eagle shoot(s) 

Lunch stop in Wolfville or Grand-Pré 

Afternoon shoot in Grand-Pré (owls) or an Atlantic coast (location will depend on road and weather conditions, and annual variability in abundance of the nomadic short-eared owls at Grand-Pré)

Dinner at a local restaurant

Optional evening image review

Day 3 (Saturday 15 January 2022)

Same plan

Day 4 (Sunday 16 January 2022)

Same plan

Day 5 (Monday 17 January 2022)

Same plan

Day 6 (Tuesday 18 January 2022)

We will check out of the hotel early and depart early morning as usual

After the morning eagle shoot (11:30 a.m.), we depart for Halifax airport

You should not book any flight prior to a 3 p.m. departure on January 18th

 

Click here to express your interest for this tour

 

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Shadow danceShadow danceAn aggressive immature bald eagle tucks right under the wing of a mature bald eagle standing it's ground over food.


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Logistics

You will need to arrive at Halifax Stanfield International Airport (airport code YHZ) by Thursday afternoon on 13 January 2022, where you should arrange for a rental vehicle for the 5-day workshop (best to rent a Jeep or other AWD at this time of year).

Given the potential for winter travel delays, I recommend that you arrive one-day early to give yourself a buffer.

I will meet you at the airport at 4 p.m. if you wish, so anyone that wants to can drive to our hotel in the Annapolis Valley 'convoy-style.'

We will have a short orientation session after checking into our hotel in the Annapolis Valley so that everyone is prepped for our morning departure on Friday. 

On each of the next five days we will first visit the Sheffield Mills Eagle Watch for a shoot. Once finished there (typically about 11:00 a.m. but it is possible that it will be into the afternoon), we will stop for lunch and then head to our afternoon shoot location. We will maintain flexibility with regards to afternoon locations in order to take full advantage of weather conditions (typically for us, bad weather is good news!).

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Above: Lunenburg, a picturesque fishing port, will be one of our stops on the days we head to the Atlantic coast

 

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What's included?

Accommodations for 5-nights (we will be based at the Slumber Inn in New Minas, in the Annapolis Valley)

Instruction on eagle photography as needed (if you want detailed instruction, you may want to instead consider joining the workshop)

 

What's not included?

Transportation to/from your home to Halifax

Rental vehicle in Nova Scotia

Meals

Drinks and personal spending

Donations to Sheffield Mills Eagle Watch (there is a donation box at the viewing site)

Canadian sales tax on the tour package (15%)

 

What should you bring?

– one or two camera bodies –

– wide-angle, mid-range, and telephoto lenses –

– laptop computer, charging, and storage devices –

– tripod and head –

– warm winter clothing – 

– sturdy winter boots and micro-spikes for traction in slippery conditions –

I will supply a complete list of recommended items prior to departure

 

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Below: a short-eared owl cruising over farm fields

Owl flying over Nova Scotia farmlandOwl flying over Nova Scotia farmland

 

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Reserve your place

USD $100 non-refundable deposit required to reserve your place.

Final payment of USD $2395 is due 60-days prior to departure, by Saturday, 13 November 2021.

I strongly advise you purchase travel insurance at the time of your booking to ensure that you are able to get compensation in the event of health or family emergencies.

 

Click here to express your interest for this tour


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Below: an immature eagle fends off an attack from the adult above 

Failed fly-by challengeFailed fly-by challenge

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FAQ

You have 4 tour dates online for 2022 - what is the difference between them and which is best?

For 2022, I offer two types of trips: (1) a small-group (3-person maximum) tour that includes 4.5-full days of photography and 5-nights hotel; and (2) a slightly larger group (10-person maximum) workshop that includes 3.5-days of photography and learning sessions, and 4-nights hotel.

The small-group eagle tour (this trip) is entirely oriented towards capturing as many quality images as possible, not only of bald eagles but also of other raptors (if they are around - always an uncertainty) and coastal winter scenery. I have allocated one extra day for this tour to allow the best chances of getting those 'one-time' shots across a variety of weather conditions. Our small group will get to shoot locations that most visitors to Nova Scotia never get to see, plus some of the most famous ones.

In the workshops, we will visit the Sheffield Mills Eagle Watch in the morning for an eagle shoot. In the afternoons, we will have learning sessions at the hotel, in which we go over technical and artistic considerations for capturing and processing your eagle images. Each afternoon we will also head out for one relatively short drive to a local photography location (e.g., the national historic site at Grand-Pré or one of the local fishing villages).

Besides the differences between the trip itineraries, I have scheduled one of each type of small-group tour and eagle workshop in mid-January (13-18 January for the small-group tour; 20-24 January for the workshop) and mid-February (10-15 February for the small-group tour; 17-21 February for the workshop). The big difference between the January and February options is the light conditions. In January, the days are shortest and the eagle session will have more of a cool, purple morning look to images. In February, the sun is already much higher in the sky.

Weather conditions are likely to be equally as cold in January and February, though on the Atlantic coast it is possible to get rain at any time of the year as a maritime warm front passes over. 

What kind of photo gear should I bring?

To make the most of this tour, you should bring a camera(s) with interchangeable lenses. For morning bald eagle sessions, I recommend a minimum zoom of 300-mm but I personally find shooting in the 400- to 600-mm range ideal. For our afternoons, you might find a mid-range zoom (e.g., 70-200 mm) useful, as well as a wide-angle zoom (e.g., 16-35 mm or 24-105 mm range). On the coast, if you would like to shoot some long exposure images with silky waves and clouds, you should bring a tripod and neutral density filter.

Depending on the weight of your camera and long telephoto, you may or may not want to use a tripod for eagle photography. I personally do not use a tripod because I find it far too restrictive for tracking eagle and owl action, but instead just prop my telephoto on my knee while sitting in the snowI will have some folding camp chairs along for anyone who is not able to sit in the snow. 

I'm a novice photographer - will this be suitable for me?

Yes. Photographers of all levels of experience will find the tour photographically rewarding. If you are a novice, I am happy to provide you with tips on how to capture action images you will be proud of.

How physical will the trip be?

For the small-group tour, we will be doing some walking in snowy and potentially slippery conditions, especially when we are out looking for owls out on farm roads. At Sheffield Mills, we have easy access to our shoot location, which is less that 30-m (100-ft) from our parking spot. You should bring some micro-spikes for your winter boots to help with traction in winter conditions. 

Where will we eat?

Our hotel has a self-serve breakfast, so we can get a coffee and snack before morning departure. We may instead also stop at a coffee shop prior to driving over to the eagle feeding session. We will take our lunch stop at one of the restaurants in Wolfville, Grand-Pré, or other communities we are near. Dinner will be in restaurants along our route for the day or back in the Annapolis Valley. There will be vegetarian and vegan options at all restaurants and coffee shops. Food and drinks are not included in the price of the tour.

What happens if the weather is really bad?

In bad weather, rental vehicles may be of limited utility on rural roads. In that case, we will ride in my  4WD overland Jeep Wrangler or hire a luxury SUV with local professional driver; we can thus be on the road safely in almost all weather conditions. I generally prefer shooting eagles and owls in foul weather and am constantly hoping for snow and wind!  Photographing the Nova Scotia coast in poor weather can also be extremely rewarding as it is possible to capture unique moody images that convey the real nature of the region. Come prepared to be flexible as everything really will depend on weather conditions - I have scheduled these tours in the core of the Nova Scotia winter, hoping for lots of snow and cold (the eagles burn much more fuel in cold conditions, so will be hungry and potentially very aggressive on cold, windy days).

What should I wear?

You should come here with winter gear that will keep you warm to at least -23 C (-10 F) wind chill. Nova Scotia is influenced by both the Gulf Stream (meaning we can get rain in the core of winter) and the outflow winds from Labrador (meaning we can drop to -15 C or lower with strong winds). My recommendation is for multiple clothing layers, a warm parka, a pair of warm bib overalls or winter hunting camo suit (camo is not needed on account of the birds - no matter what you wear, they know you are there), and warm winter boots. We always have a vehicle close for warm-up, but for eagle sessions expect to be standing or sitting in the snow for at least an hour at a time. If you like the thought of sitting in the snow and shooting without a tripod, it would be good to bring along a small insulating pad to sit on. 

What happens if I need to cancel?

There are no refunds for trips cancelled within 2-months of departure. I strongly recommend having travel insurance in place in case you have unavoidable changes in plans. If possible, I will re-schedule you for a later session but I cannot guaranty that will be feasible. 

What happens if I arrive late due to travel problems?

If you encounter travel delays that cause you to miss the Halifax airport departure on Day 1, you will need to catch up with the group once you do arrive. I do recommend arriving a day early (the Annapolis Valley has many sights worth exploring on a free day) in case there are serious winter weather delays for air travel.

How will we handle Covid precautions?

I am hopeful that by early-2022 we will be into a situation allowing for non-residents to travel to Atlantic Canada. At the moment, I have set the itinerary with everyone responsible for their own local transportation. While that is not ideal, I know, it gives us a safety margin regarding personal contact time in close quarters. 

What happens if Tendrel Images cancels the trip?

If for any reason the trip is cancelled, you will receive a full refund, including your USD $100 deposit. 

Does the trip need a minimum number of photographers to run?

No, for Bay of Fundy Snow Eagles I will run the tour even with a single person.   

Can a non-photographer come along?

If you want to bring a non-photographer along, that is fine but the price of the tour will be the same for a non-photographer as it is for photographers.  

Is there anything shorter available - I only have a little free time?

Contact me directly to discuss private tours for 1-6 people. I will happily take custom bookings from January 15th to March 15th.

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Below: Peggy's Cove lighthouse at dusk

Blue hour and ice at Peggy's CoveBlue hour and ice at Peggy's CoveThis image is a 30-second long exposure that captures cloud movement above the Nova Scotia coast just as it was getting totally dark. It had been shaping up to be a fabulous sunset on 2 March 2020, but at the last minute clouds rolled in. The glow coming through the thin layer of clouds was the last of sunset light behind the clouds.