When the full moon is set to rise into a clear sky over a calm ocean at dusk, you know it is going to be a great photo opportunity.
Bring on the golden-red colours, the presaging glow, the first glimpse of the sliver of disk peeping above the watery horizon, the silver path of light on the rippling waves!
This was the moment on Tuross Head Beach last weekend, with the moon at its fullest and rising into the fading light of an early mid-winter evening.
Sedate but swift, the moon rises
On this magic night the moonrise is a slowly moving visual feast, clinging to the ocean with a spectacular light-drop effect, then drifting upwards between the layered clouds. As I take photo after photo, the sky darkens, and the moon begins to lighten. While it still beams with a deep russet glow, I frame up the cloud-bespeckled moon yet again, trying to keep the barely visible sea horizon level. I take the photo.
Suddenly, an eagle
A split-second later, with the sound of my camera shutter still ringing in my years, an Australian sea eagle dives directly in front of the full moon, head down and wings spread, magnificently limned in the moon’s ruddy glow.
The eagle plunges into the sea like an arrow, to snatch one last fishy meal from the water as darkness closes in. And I missed the perfect photo by milliseconds!
Later, reviewing my images, I did find at least photographic evidence of my story of the ‘one that got away’ – this lovely photo of the eagle making its approach from just above the moon.
The moons sails the night sky
Soon the moon fades to silver-white, lighting the waves and heading off on its journey to illuminate the night for other entranced viewers.