Wings of Gold – Himalayan Golden Eagle in flight!



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First time I saw a Himalayan Golden Eagle in flight or else was way back in 1993, somewhere in Kullu-Parvati valley while trekking to Chanderkhani Pass. But that time I had a film camera and not so good lenses. Focussing was issue and it wasn’t possible to use many shots on flying bird in a 36 exposure film. Since then, I had spotted golden eagles on many occasions during various treks in Himachal and Uttarkhand. Last year, during Kashmir Great Lakes Trek I spotted a couple of them deep inside valley at Gangbal pass. But they were still far from reach of my tele lens. In that respect, it was the best opportunity this month I got to photograph Himalayan Golden Eagles when I was biking near Mukeshwar. I was on ridge with view of Nanda Devi peak on one side and valley on other. Eagles were close and flying low at times.

A Himalayan Golden Eagle flying high near Mukteshwar in Kumaon, perhaps looking for a prey in deep valley below. Himalayan golden eagles are large raptors and one of the best-known birds of prey in India. They use their powerful feet and massive talons for of prey. Normally they inhabits altitude between 3000 and 5500m, but sometimes make a rare descent to lower levels at below 2000 metres in search of food!
Tough to focus when bird is flying right above you and you are hand-helding a heavy tele-lens. The Golden Himalayan Eagle is a very large raptor, 66 to 102 centimetres (26 to 40 in) in length. Its wings are broad and the wingspan is 1.8 to 2.34 metres (5 ft 11 in to 7 ft 8 in). Golden eagles’ wingspan is the fifth largest among living eagle species.
Right for your throat! Himalayn Golden Eagles are master predators, as others in their family. They might take time, but once they detect a target, its hard to escape!
Eyeing a prey! Graceful Himalayan Golden Eagle is the largest of all the Himalayan birds- large, powerful and readily distinguished from all other birds of prey. In soaring overhead the broad wings are held wide open in a V slightly above the line of the back, as in king vulture and black eagle.

What was interesting about this occasion was, I was on my Thunderbird Twinspark and to click the images I had to park, get my camera bag off my back and then click the images. When I started clicking the Golden eagles were on some height. Then, every time, I thought that I had done enough and started packing the cameras, I would find an eagle flying lower and closer. Lure of getting better pictures will make me unpack the cameras again and start clicking. It went on a few times, until I decided that it was enough. I presume hardest thing for photographers is to pack their cameras while clicking. In frustration of this packing and unpacking, I clicked many images on my mobile phone. But it was a interesting experience altogether.

Initially I was able to see one or two eagles at a time.
Then I realised it was a group of golden eagles.
But it wasn’t a small group, there were many eagles flying in the sky and it was very fascinating sight.

Have you seen Himalayan Golden Eagle in Himalayan region? How was the experience? Share with us in the comments section below.

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2 thoughts on “Wings of Gold – Himalayan Golden Eagle in flight!”

  1. Shreeram Thatte says:

    These are Himalayan Griffon vultures, not golden eagles.

    1. swamiupendra says:

      I am mistaken then. Thanks a lot for the info. Will go back to my research and will correct.

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