Bald Eagle Narrowly Escapes the Jaws of an Alligator, ‘Nearly Not Seeing Its Next Birthday’

BY Louise Chambers TIMEMay 25, 2023 PRINT

A wildlife photographer from England was able to snap an incredible moment when he got to witness a juvenile bald eagle narrowly escape the jaws of an alligator who appeared to be in attack mode.

Chris Holwell, 54, lives near Hull in East Yorkshire with his partner, Ellen. The couple travels to Florida once a year for photo opportunities. On a recent trip to Orlando Wetlands Park, they had the opportunity to witness the best yet.

“We were on the new boardwalk at Orlando Wetlands when Ellen pointed out to me that there was an alligator, turtle, and vulture on a small island near the cypress tree nesting area,” Chris told The Epoch Times. “Me being me, I was trying to find a joke to go with it, but decided to prop my long lens on the barrier to the boardwalk and have a look.”

An alligator, turtle, and eagle.
An alligator, turtle, and eagle. (Courtesy of Chris Holwell)

Chris had “more or less discounted” the trio since there were plenty of each species at the park, but then he noticed that the bird, which was brown with yellow legs, wasn’t a vulture after all, but a juvenile bald eagle.

“Obviously this was of interest to me,” he said. “Suddenly, out of the corner of my viewfinder, I noticed the gator move and the turtle scurry off into the water; the gator then slid off into the water about 10 feet out, then launched at the eagle. … I just kept my finger on the trigger, and luckily I got what I got!”

Alligator trying to make an attempt on the eagle's life.
(Courtesy of Chris Holwell)

Chris shot over 60 frames with his gear that included a—Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Canon EF 300 F2.8 L Mk1 IS lens, and a Canon 2x Mark III extender—during the bald eagle’s close encounter.

He shared his best pictures on Facebook, and wrote: “Juvenile bald eagle nearly not seeing its next birthday!”

He told The Epoch Times: “Generally the gators at the park are very subdued, and it’s quite rare to see them in full ‘attack mode.'”

“I know what they’re capable of, especially at this time of year, as they do have young and some still have eggs,” he said, “so I’m not sure if the eagle had seen something the adult gator wasn’t happy about.”

After snapping the epic photos, Chris shared them with Orlando Wetlands volunteers Mark and Pat. He further credited the park’s staff for doing “such an amazing job helping folk identify species.” Shortly after sharing the photos on social media, he was inundated with media requests from around the world.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Chris Holwell)

Chris usually goes on most of his photography expeditions within the UK. When he first visited Florida 15 years ago, he was enamored with the wealth of different species and great wildlife guides.

A photography enthusiast since childhood, he “wasted a lot of expensive film,” playing about with his father’s old Zenit camera in the 1970s, but “got more of a zest for it” using a friend’s darkroom in the late 1980s.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Chris Holwell)

After experimenting with a second-hand Minolta 35mm film camera, he graduated to the Canon EOS series.

Chris, whose day job involves working in management for the UK’s largest renewables company, said he has a keen interest in wildlife and loves getting out to explore.

“You can have some days that you see nothing of interest, especially in the UK, and other days when you don’t know which way to point your lens,” he said.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Chris Holwell)
An eagle escaping the alligator's jaws.
(Courtesy of Chris Holwell)

“Ellen and I feed the local birds and other local wildlife; we do well with hedgehogs in our garden and have them visiting most nights,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to catch a bear, panther, or bobcat in Florida at one of the reserves.

“I’m sure I might get lucky like the gator and eagle incident one day!”

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Louise Chambers is a writer, born and raised in London, England. She covers inspiring news and human interest stories.
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