Shiloh National Cemetery sits within the battlefield of Shiloh National Military Park in southern Tennessee. It lies along the Tennessee River at Pittsburg Landing which was the crossing point for the Union Army during the battle. It is a quiet and scenic memorial that was once a spot filled with rage. The cemetery stands as a reminder of not only what happened there on April 6 and 7 of 1862, but also what happened along the Tennessee River. The cemetery was established to bury Union dead, but now is a resting place of several soldiers from many American conflicts. The picture above is looking out of the cemetery toward the battlefield. Two flags fly above the cemetery, the POW flag and the flag of the United States as memorial to all the fallen.
Over the last several weeks I have been taking short trips to Squaw Creek Wildlife Refuge in northwest Missouri to try to photograph bald eagles that are migrating south following the other bird migrations. It reminds me of my first experience trying to photograph the birds in the wild. I have spent many long hours in the field trying to photograph different species of animals, but I must say that photographing bald eagles has taught me more about patience than any other animal I have photographed.
During the school year I spend most of my time in western Tennessee. Often on weekends I will drive down to Shiloh National Military Park to walk the battlefield and photograph. Last spring I learned about a nesting pair of eagles that call the park home during the spring. My first day to make my attempt I arrived at the park just as the sun was beginning to rise. I drove the park and then found the nest where I made myself comfortable for the next 8 hours or so. After spending the day attempting to capture the birds I did not come home with anything that I felt was worthwhile.
The following week I headed back out to make another attempt. It was my last weekend in Tennessee before I had to head back to Kansas for the summer. I arrived early in the morning and prepared myself for a long day in the field. I photographed as the birds came back and forth from the nest feeding the eaglet. After spending the day in the field I decided to pack up in the late afternoon. I was unsure if I had anything worthwhile, but I knew there was a god chance I had something. When I got home I discovered this photograph of the female coming into the nest with a trout from the Tennessee River.
I must admit that there is something that comes over you when you are close to these majestic birds. I have been extremely lucky to photograph some pretty amazing wildlife, but bald eagles are special. There is something about the thrill that comes over me when I am close to these birds. Shots like this make the long hours in the field worth every minute. These experiences also are what make me go back for more. The main lesson I learn from these birds is to be patient and tenacious. Keep shooting and keep exploring!