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.
I included a poem in yesterday’s post that highlighted this juvenile Red-tailed Hawk that swooped down from a tree ahead of me and pounced on something in the grass. It then proceeded to kill its prey…which evidently took some doing…as the hawk repeatedly jumped up into the air and pounced again. I thought at the time that the hawk might have taken a snake…which would definitely fight back and be hard to kill, but in hindsight it might have been that the juvenile was just inexperienced and would have had trouble with anything. 🙂 It was a great encounter. I felt privileged to be a witness, and was so excited that it was difficult to hold the camera still enough for shots. My primary impression was the size of the hawk. You rarely see them down on the ground like this and this close, and the bird looked huge!
Sony RX10iii at 600 and 1200mm. Exposure on Program but all about 1/640 @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Lightroom and assembled in Coolage.
Back again to Florida for today’s pic. This is an immature Red-shouldered Hawk at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park south of St Augustine Florida. I saw a similar hawk last year when I visited, so I was kind of looking for this hawk when it appeared in the huge Live Oaks above the water features in the shaded part of the garden. It appeared as though on cue, and my students (it was a Point and Shoot Nature Photography field trip at the Florida Birding and Photo Fest) were duly impressed 🙂
Nikon P900 at 1200mm equivalent field of view (pulled back for context). 1/160 @ ISO 400 @ f6.3. Processed in Lightroom.
The light was going fast, with a storm coming on, and my “big gun” is in the shop, so I did not have the reach I am used to, but who can pass up a hunting American Kestrel. This is one of a pair that have been hunting, according to a fellow photographer who has been watching them, this field for a week. Maybe they will nest somewhere in the big Maples along the road, or in the forest bordering the field.
Nikon P610 at 1440mm equivalent field of view. 1/800th @ ISO 100 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom and cropped slightly for scale.
Because the Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is a working event for me, all of my photos from Bosque are early or late…before the Expo Tent warms up, or after it closes for the day at 5PM. This female Northern Harrier was hunting the marshy area on the two way connector between the north and south loops of the tour road early one morning. I stopped the car and popped out with the camera to try to catch it in flight. The bird only gave me a few chances as it worked up and down the marsh…and all too soon it drifted out of range. This shot, though I would have preferred to keep both wingtips in frame, is satisfying to me because of the direct eye contact. That is a real hunter’s stare. Fortunately for me, I am not Harrier prey. 🙂
Nikon P900 at 1200mm equivalent field of view. 1/400th @ ISO 100 @ f6.3. Processed and cropped slightly for scale in Lightroom.
I spent a few hours at Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area in Cape May, New Jersey, on Saturday morning. Some good birds and some good photo ops. Probably the best were the two cooperative Sharp-shinned Hawks. One flew within a foot of my head as it chased sparrows through a hedge row and across the path where I was standing to photograph a female cardinal at close range. It perched in a tree above me…partially obscured by twigs, but close. An hour later, just as I was on my way back to the car, this Sharpy flew in from behind me and settled in much better view, if a bit further away. I pushed the Nikon P610 out to 2600mm equivalent using Perfect Image digital zoom for this close portrait. You can see that the Sharpy was totally aware that I was there. 🙂
Nikon P610 as above. 1/400th @ ISO 100 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom. Below is a full body view shot at 1440mm equivalent (full optical zoom) and cropped slightly for scale.
I am off to the Midwest Birding Symposium this am, so we have an early post. I ran a collage of images of this cooperative immature Red-tailed Hawk, found along one of the trails at Laudholm Farm last week. This is a close up view. A lovely bird by any standard.
Nikon P900 at 3200mm equivalent field of view using about 1.7x Perfect Image Zoom beyond the 2000mm optical. 1/200th @ ISO 400 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom.