A photo of a bald eagle catching a fish at Antelope Lake, shot by Susanville photographer Randy Robbins, won the 2019 Sierra Nevada Conservancy California Wildlife Photo of the Year contest. (Robbins frequently submits photographs for use in the Lassen County Times’ Visitors Guide.)
Robbins spent a considerable amount of time chasing bald eagles in his kayak on Antelope Lake in the Plumas National Forest. This may seem unusual, but it turned out to be the best way to get opportunities to photograph them. After observing the birds for several summers, he located their nest that contained two eaglets. More easily accessible by water, he returned to the location several times to photograph the eaglets’ growth and first short flights.
From the water, he observed favorite perches and fishing locations that the adult parents were frequenting to bring a constant supply of meals to the growing fledglings. Getting a photo of one of the adults catching a fish was a “bucket list” item for Robbins. Determination and a lot of patience are represented in this image.
He sums up the experience of obtaining this photo by saying, “I was in the right place at the wrong time hundreds of times, and then in the right place at the right time once.”
After several hours on the water, when the moment presented itself, Robbins didn’t miss his opportunity to capture this winning photo proving once again that timing is everything!
On Jan. 23, 2020, Robbins joined Brian Dahle on the floor of the State Senate, where he received a certificate honoring his photograph. The top nine images from the 2019 contest will be part of a week-long display, Jan. 21-24, 2020, at the State Capitol outside the governor’s office. The photographs include all of the year’s top finishers and special honorable mentions selected by representatives from Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Out of This World Optics, and California Watchable Wildlife.
The photos on display will also include the following: 2019 Sierra Nevada Conservancy Honorable Mentions: Northern Harrier, Chalfant Valley by Larry Whiting, Citrus Heights, California; 2019 California Watchable Wildlife Honorable Mention White-faced Ibis, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area by Yvonne Hunter, Davis, California; American Mink, Spring Lake Santa Rosa (Steve Pearce); Purple Shore Crab, Point Lobos State Reserve (Julie MacKinnon); Monarch Butterflies, Pacific Grove (Bob Western); Coyote, Point Reyes National Seashore, (Ed Donelley); and Bald Eagles, Llano Seco National Wildlife Refuge (Steve McDonald).
The three top winning images also will be featured on their Facebook page, and in the January-February 2020 issue of Outdoor California.
The year-long contest is presented by California Watchable Wildlife; the California Department of Fish & Wildlife‘s magazine, Outdoor California; and is sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and Out Of This World Optics.