Now, since I first used my remarkable zoom lens at The Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo in Monroe Louisiana on my birthday  I have taken it to several other interesting places around Northeast Louisiana.

At Corney Lake in Kisatchie National Forest (a fine place to see eagles and beavers) I used it to get my first ever pictures of a wild Golden Eagle from our kayak. We’d heard the eagle’s keening cry for about half an hour before we actually saw it.

This Golden Eagle circled and pooped near us on Corney Lake in Kisatchie National Forest. Captured on Lumix GX8 with 650-1300mm Opteka zoom lens at about the 800mm manual focus and auto exposure. C. Paxton photo and copyright.

This Golden Eagle circled and pooped near our kayak on Corney Lake in Kisatchie National Forest. We were ecstatic!  Captured on Lumix GX8 with 650-1300mm Opteka zoom lens at about the 850mm mark, manual focus and auto exposure. C. Paxton photo and copyright.

Golden Eagle at Corney Lake, Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

Golden Eagle at Corney Lake, Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

Yes, I realise that I’m a very lucky so-and-so. Recently we have seen eagles on 5 out of six sorties. An old fisherman we spoke to at Corney Lake confirmed that he often sees them now. “They’re coming back,” he told us.

He’s right there, and furthermore they’re breeding, which is great.

Using this zoom with support is recommended as it is quite heavy for pro-longed hand-holding and you have to manually zoom and refocus on a moving subject like this beautiful eagle. I vowed to strengthen my arms for better use of this lens.

We saw a pair of Beavers near their lodge not far from the boat ramp, but they quickly evaded our view, disappearing between the trees.

One of many Beavers' Lodges at Corney Lake in Kisatchie National Forest in January 2016, a fantastic place for boating and wildlife spotting. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

One of many Beavers’ Lodges at Corney Lake in Kisatchie National Forest in January 2016, a fantastic place for boating and wildlife spotting. Lumix GX8 with 7mm-14mm zoom (now stolen). C.Paxton photo and copyright.

I also used this super-zoom at the Lake D’Arbonne Spillway, a great spot for birding and photographing White Pelicans!

 

White Pelicans at Lake D'Arbonne's Spillway, taken on Opteka 650-1300mm zoom, tripod supported. C. Paxton photo and copyright.

White Pelicans at Lake D’Arbonne’s Spillway, taken on Lumix GX8 with Opteka 650-1300mm zoom, tripod supported. C. Paxton photo and copyright.

Kimmie at the spillway with the Opteka zoom mounted on the Lumix GX8. Note the tripod on the lens balances the whole set-up very well. You pull and push the zoom lens to elongate and shorten it respectively. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

Kimmie at the spillway with the Opteka zoom mounted on the Lumix GX8. Note the tripod on the lens balances the whole set-up very well. You pull and push the zoom lens to elongate and shorten it respectively. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

The dream experience though was photographing Bald Eagles on the nest at Black Bayou from a position safely within the allowed area before  the ‘area closed’ sign. Their nest is huge and has been used for many years, and these parents seem very devoted. The long zoom lens allows ‘keeper’ quality photographs to be taken at sufficient distance for the angle to show the chicks clearly. On land I favour use of a solid tripod, on the water a monopod is better because you cannot get your eye to the view finder easily in a kayak unless you are unusually flexible.

Using such a long lens in a moving kayak can be a bit disorientating because small movements are magnified considerably by the powerful telescopic lens. It takes some practice to find your subject and the focusing is very fine, with only a narrow depth of field, it seems to respond well to minute adjustments.

Bald Eagle parents, nest and young at Black Bayou National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe Louisiana. Image shrunk for web, taken on Lumix GX8 with Opteka 650-1300mm zoom at 1300mm mark. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

Bald Eagle parents, nest and young at the wonderful Black Bayou National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe, Louisiana. Image shrunk for web, taken on Lumix GX8 with Opteka 650-1300mm zoom at 1300mm mark supported by monopod within the kayak. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

 

We were also treated to great views of an American Kestrel perched on a curved Bald Cyprus branch near the eagle’s nest, and cruising and basking American Alligators nearby! Spring is here and the bayous are hopping!

American Kestrel enlarged and enhanced in Topaz Adjust 5 taken on Lumix DMC GX8 with Opteka 650-1300mm zoom. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

American Kestrel (male) enlarged and enhanced in Topaz Adjust 5 taken on Lumix DMC GX8 with Opteka 650-1300mm zoom. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

American Alligator cruising past Coots at about 3 miles per hour. These impressive, ante-diluvian reptiles are thrilling to see and photograph in the wild. Lumix DMC GX8 with 650-1300mm zoom. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

American Alligator cruising past Coots at about 3 miles per hour. These impressive, ante-diluvian reptiles are thrilling to see and photograph in the wild and Black Bayou is a good place to see them. Lumix DMC GX8 with 650-1300mm zoom on monopod. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

We were thrilled to seem them active in temperatures of about 7o degrees F and for them not to show any aggression!

 

The author has received no remuneration for this blog article and has no connection with any of the manufacturers or places mentioned therein.