Cooper’s Hawk: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I was at the little drainage pond at Southern Maine Health Care in Kennebunk, photographing mostly dragonflies, when the resident pair of Red-winged Blackbirds suddenly increased their racket. The male in particular seemed upset, and his high pitched alarm calls were echoed by an even higher pitched call that I thought might be a Cowbird…but I had not seen any Cowbirds around the pond. Suddenly a big bird burst out of the dense little evergreen at the pond’s edge, where it had obviously been sheltering from the RWBB’s attentions, and dove into the birch cluster above the RWBB’s nest. The RWBB was on it in seconds, and it flew out and across the parking lot to one of the ornamental trees. Cooper’s Hawk! By shape and size and what little feather pattern I caught in flight. The RWBB was not giving it any rest, and before I could get the camera on it, it flew back across in front of me and landed up under the eves of the forest abutting the pond, about 40 feet from me. I had been using full 1440mm equivalent on the dragonflies, so I was zoomed in way to far, but I got off a couple of shots, and then attempted to zoom back for the full bird. By then, though, only seconds later, the RWBB had moved the hawk on again, and this time escorted it out across the parking lot until it disappeared into the trees behind the shopping center an eighth of a mile back out toward Route 1. So what I have is a grab shot head shot of the bird. Not a bad shot considering. And a Cooper’s Hawk is always a good bird to see. 🙂 Nikon B700 at 1440mm equivalent. Program mode with what are becoming my custom birds and wildlife modifications for this camera (Program, Vivid Picture Control, Low Active-D Lighting, Medium movable spot focus, -.3EV exposure compensation). Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Broad-winged Hawk, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I need to remember it is hawk migration time here in Southern Maine. This hawk came up off the roadside as I rode up on it on my eBike, with something largish in its talons, and I tracked it in flight (not easy, or perhaps even safe, to do while riding a bike) until it landed in a tree overhanging the road ahead of me. I carefully parked my bike before I could actually see the spot where it landed, got my camera out and walked ahead, peering up into the branches. And there it was. Now that I have the photos for reference, I can see that the prey was a snake of some kind. Red-tailed is the default hawk in Southern Maine, but I am pretty sure (and both of my ai photo recognition programs agree) that this an immature Broad-winged Hawk…which makes it a migrant passing through. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
This Red-shouldered Hawk was sitting so still, close to Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville, Florida, USA, that I almost did not see it. I was about to drive off, after checking a small pond where waders sometimes congregate, when I spotted it…sitting right there! It even let me slide the car forward to put it against a better background (after taking a first burst of shots just in case, of course). Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
We really did see quite a few raptors during our #Epic_Uganda_Vacations birding and wildlife tour of Uganda. This is one that I really wanted a decent photograph of. I have seen it both in Kenya and South Africa, but never seen it well, and never had a good photo op. This was the best I could do in Uganda (Murchinson Falls National Park) for a mature bird…though we saw and photographed at least half a dozen immatures. Not the best shot, but still a memorable experience. The Bateleur is classed among the Hawk-Eagles. Sony RX10IV at 1200mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
A few days ago I posted images of a Dark Chanting-Goshawk from Murchinson Falls National Park in Uganda, and said that the Eastern Chanting-Goshawk was also possible there. Well, imagine my surprise when I looked at my “other” shots of a Chanting-Goshawk, taken a the next day in another part of the Park, and found that it is, to my eye at least, probably an Eastern. The cere is certainly yellow, as opposed to the Dark Chanting’s obvious orange, and the legs do appear longer. Two Chanting-Goshawks in two days! But this is exactly the kind of trip we had with #Epic_Uganda_Vacations 🙂 and the reason I am planning to go back next year. Uganda is amazing. Sony Rx10iv at 1200mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
I was impressed by the numbers and variety of birds we saw in Uganda with #Epic_Uganda_Vacations when compared to my previous trips to either Kenya or South Africa. This is the Dark Chanting-Goshawk which we encountered at Murchinson Falls National Park early in our trip. I looked it up, since I had to wonder why this is a “chanting” Goshawk? What I could find indicates that the name comes from the mating call, which is along, increasingly rapid, series of notes that turns into a tremolo at the end. We did not hear the call, but I am willing to believe in my sources 🙂 It is certainly a striking bird. Both it and the Eastern variety are possible in Murchinson Falls, but the orange cere is the identifying feature here. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm and 1200mm equivalents. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
A second shot from the sequence of the Red-tailed Hawk at Laudholm Farms on Thursday. Such a handsome bird! Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
Despite my still healing bruised tailbone, I am getting out for photoprowls on my ebike most days when it does not rain all day. Yesterday, after the rain stopped, I rode down to the Bridal Path to check for dragonflies (not yet) and to Rachel Carson to see if the huge Jack-in-the-pulpits were opened out (not yet), and then to finish the circuit rode into the Laudholm Farms parking area before looping back around on Rt. 1 to home (just over 10 miles). I was headed out of the Laudholm parking lot when I caught the hawk on the bluebird boxes behind the hedge at corner. I was able to get off the bike, get my camera out of the rear rack pack, and approach as close as the hedge would allow without the hawk taking alarm, so I got a whole series of photos. It turned out to be an immature Red-tailed Hawk, perhaps drying from the rains in the sun on its handy perch and not in any hurry to go anywhere. Though it might look like it is about to take flight here, anyone who has watched sitting hawks very long knows what comes next…and I have a great photo of the white-wash stream to prove it. They do often fly right after, but this one settled down and remained on the perch until I decided it was time to finish my ride. Sony RX10iv at 840mm equivalent (1.4x Smart Zoom…in-camera crop). Processed in Polarr.
If you read yesterday’s post, you know that I got more than the one shot I shared of the Red-tailed Hawk at Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at…). And as I mentioned, it allowed me to approach much closer than I expected. This shot is at 1200mm equivalent field of view, but still… Such a magnificent bird!
Sony RX10iii at 1200mm equivalent field of view (2x Clear Image Zoom). 1/500th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Polarr on my Android tablet.
There is a poem:
When I first pulled into the parking lot
at Laudholm Farms, I glanced out the
driver’s side window to see a hawk
sitting on the Bluebird House 40 yards
away. I grabbed for the camera, but
by the time I got it out and on, and
reached for the handle to roll down
the window, the Hawk was gone.
Surely too big for a Cooper’s Hawk?
Still I got out and wandered over
toward the corner of the woodlot
beyond the bird house, in case it had
not gone far…and, surprise, there it
was on the ground 4 feet behind the
rough hedge along the fence between
the parking lot and field. It was away
again before I could get on it, but it
landed in the low branch of a big oak
at the edge. I got a few shots, mostly
obscured by branches and a few dried
leaves still clinging on…but then it
swooped and landed again on the
ground behind the hedge. Now there
was a big enough gap just there so I
could focus through the winter twigs,
and I took its portrait as it danced and
pounced on something small in the
frozen grasses at its feet. Up again
to perch in an old maple by the road.
This time I caught the unmistakable
flash of rust red on the tail. Ah!
The Red-tailed Hawk perched with its back
to me, and let me get a lot closer than I
expected, looking over its shoulder every
once in a while to see what I was doing.
Magnificent! The beak and eye…the
intricate cryptology of feather detail
of one of nature’s ultimate birds of prey.
In the end it had enough of my looking at it,
and flew off down the treeline another 40
yards. I let it go. Thrilled to my bones,
entirely blessed, to have been part of its day.
This is, clearly, one of the portraits behind the hedge. Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program Mode. 1/800th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Cropped for scale and composition and processed in Snapseed on my Android tablet. Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm in Wells Maine.