SEAGROVE BEACH — Avid photographer and bird lover Jamie Conley ran out of her office recently to try to photograph two bald eagles in Western Lake.
Conley, business manager and marketing representative for Davis Properties, had purchased a new camera and was in her office when “one of the sales guys came into the office and said he’d just seen two bald eagles over Western Lake.”
“He wondered if I was interested in trying to get some photos,” Conley said. “I told him ‘you bet’ and ran out the door with my brand new camera in tow.”
Conley drove down County Road 30A to Grayton Beach and pulled to the side of the road.
“It was about 3:30 or 4ish,” Conley said. “It was a beautiful, blue-sky afternoon, just a wonderful day after so many days of recent rain and overcast skies.”
“This is the first time that I’d photographed a bald eagle,” she said. “So I guess I just got lucky.”
The bald eagle population in Florida has increased over the past few decades, and the birds now breed in 62 of the state’s 67 counties, according to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“Bald eagles are not uncommon in Walton County,” said Janell Brush, an avian research scientist at the FWC’s Gainesville office. “There are actually four known nesting territories in the county.”
“If you are in this area, you would definitely have a good chance of seeing a few bald eagles,” added Brush, who helps put together the state’s bald eagle management plan.
Brush said there are about 9,000 bald eagles in Florida.
Bald eagles were removed from the federal threatened and endangered species list in August 2007. They are still protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald Eagle Protection Act.
But as far as Conley is concerned, “I was just in the right place at the right time.”