EDITOR’S NOTE: Chris Johnson has been a longtime friend of RichmondOutside.com. We’ve featured his photos here since we revamped and re-launched back in the fall. A local physician and Collegiate School grad, he spends a lot of time outdoors photographing Richmond’s natural beauty. Earlier this week he took his camera to the Floodwall and came back with this report. This is the third in an occasional series.
Over the weekend my wife Lynn and I took our almost-3-year-old son to the Floodwall. I think it’s a great place for kids since there’s no immediate threat to fall in the water — We had taken him to the Pipeline a few days prior, which was a little nerve wracking — and there’s plenty to see that’s exciting: the river, the birds, the trains, the big buildings of the city and any airplanes or helicopters that happen to fly over.
I had literally just told Lynn that bald eagles are pretty common along the James River, but that I had never seen one in person when not more than a minute later I saw two bald eagles perched on a dead tree on Shad Island. Since it was a family outing, I hadn’t brought my camera gear. Instead I took numerous really bad iPhone photos, knowing that the quality would be very poor.
I’ve been back every day since and have seen eagles each time (as many as three). The most exciting was yesterday when I witnessed a bald eagle fly over to an osprey with a fish in its talons. The eagle harassed the osprey so much that it finally dropped the fish. The eagle then did a nosedive as fast as it could towards the fish and tried to grab it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t able to get it and the fish fell back into the James. No winners in this fight — dead fish and no food for either the osprey or the eagle.
I had read about this behavior online as well as on the sign at the Floodwall lookout (see photo below), and I’d even seen a video on YouTube but had never witnessed it in person. The more amazing part to me was that it was happening right in downtown Richmond with the city skyline as the backdrop. I don’t know how many other places are fortunate enough to have such wildlife in middle of downtown, but I bet it’s a rarity.
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