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Wildlife photographer to give presentation in Northfield tonight

NORTHFIELD — When is it OK to shoot a bald eagle? When you’re using a camera, of course.

Tonight, William Dean will present his stunning shots of the eagles that call Barton Cove home, as well as share stories and videos from his adventures.

The event will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m., in the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center.

The Barton Cove nest has been in use since 1989. Last year was a special one; three eaglets hatched in 2013, and all successfully “fledged,” or learned to fly. According to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, it’s the first time the Barton Cove nest has fledged three eaglets.

Dean made dozens of trips to Barton Cove last year, watching the eaglets grow. He’s heard them squeal for food, he’s seen their first awkward flights and he’s watched them go off to fish for themselves.

And he says he’s learned quite a bit by watching the majestic birds of prey over the last few years.

“I’ve learned to anticipate what they’re going to do, so I know what kind of shot I can get,” he has said. “I’ve learned how they interact, too. They work together to build a nest and take care of their babies really well.”

“The female eagle is the boss,” he continued. “I’ve watched as a male came back to the nest, with no food and the female shrieked at him. She really got in his face.”

While nothing’s quite like watching it happen with your own eyes, Dean’s stories, photos and videos may be the next best thing. There’s also the added bonus of not having to get up before dawn and hike through snowy woods or brave ice-cold waters in an open boat.

Dean first picked up a dSLR camera in 2008, planning to use it to shoot his son’s college football games. He happened to bring it on a hike at the Quabbin Reservoir and an eagle flew right overhead.

Since then, he’s been hooked. He’ll get up as early as 2:30 a.m., have breakfast, lash his canoe to his car and head out, hitting the water around sunrise.

Dean photographs eagles all over the area, venturing to the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs, up and down the Connecticut River from the Vernon, Vt., to Holyoke dams, and other area locations. Though he often hikes, he loves to get out on the water in his small canoe, which lets him sneak right up to the nests.

You can see more at Dean’s website,, which includes photo galleries, dates of upcoming presentations and more.

You can reach David Rainville at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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