Monday, January 5, 2009

The best Red-tailed Hawk day I've ever had.

I had the best Red-tailed Hawk day of my life. It started when B decided that she just had to get a pair of snowshoes. I was grumping because I’ve spend a lifetime trudging in show and it’s warm and cozy inside, why go out there and get fresh air and sunshine?

We went out to shop for snowshoes and I was still in protest about the whole thing. While she was picking hers out, it started to click…I can bring a camera. Okay! I’m in!

The next day, we decided to go to Appleton Farms which is an open space near where we live. There wasn’t a whole lot of snow, but it would be good training for B and maybe I’d see something. When we arrived, there was enough snow to warrant the use of the snowshoes. We actually met another couple doing the same.

Trekking out, I saw a Red-tail fly out over one of the fields. When we got to the second field and there was a Red-tail feeding. Nice, I’ll just grab a shot.
© 2009 ShootingMyUniverse
Then he flew into a nearby tree. Okay, I’m game. Let’s see how this guy reacts. Usually, I can't get within 100 yards before they take off. He seems cool at 120 yards.
© 2009 ShootingMyUniverse
This is good, now the game begins. Can I actually get a good image? When approaching critters, given the opportunity and real estate, I’ll dawdle, making way, trying to look disinterred, presenting different aspect of my profile to the target, and point my camera at anything. I’ll occasionally take a shot. Each bend in my serpentine path gains me about 20 feet.
© 2009 ShootingMyUniverse
I got pretty close, about 50 yards. Now the nature photographer’s code kicks in. My shot isn’t as important as the subject. It’s winter time and this guy doesn’t need some goofball with a camera chasing him all over, burning precious energy. I’ve got a half decent shot. If it were easier times, I’d try for another 20 or 30 feet. Looking at the scene, there is a shadow across his neck and the angle is getting pretty bad. Any closer and I’ll be photographing tail feathers. Why stress the bird?
© 2009 ShootingMyUniverse
Leaving my friend to digest his meal in peace, B and I continue on our trek. Then B spotted another hawk. By this time, we’ve had six sightings, this was the seventh.
© 2009 ShootingMyUniverse
She was in a white pine tree just off the trail. There wasn’t anything for it, that bird was going to get spooked because it was between us and the car and there is a family with kids coming. No time to serpentine, this time I just walked up, took a shot, turned pointed the camera at something else, moved 10 feet closer until the angle was no longer attractive.
© 2009 ShootingMyUniverse
I pointed out the bird to the approaching group, but they were in their own little world oblivious to all that surrounded them except for each other and the snow beneath their feet. B and I just admired the beautiful bird. I knew she would be spooked by the family coming, so I got ready.

The Red-tail decided she had enough and flew off. What a beautiful sight, the most beautiful Red-tailed Hawk I’ve ever seen.
© 2009 ShootingMyUniverse
This is a classic Red-tailed Hawk. Note the belly band and the black wrist marks. The white under the tail is something special with this bird.
© 2009 ShootingMyUniverse
I included this to show you the beautiful red tail. Although she was white underneath, she had a glorious red tail.
© 2009 ShootingMyUniverse
In all, we had seven Red-tail sightings. I’m thinking maybe four individuals at the most. When I got home, there was an email waiting from Stacey Huston from A “Focus” in the Wild in my inbox. I am honored to be the one that suggested the name for the Red-tailed Hawk in her contest.

12 comments:

Kallen305 said...

Fantastic hawk phtos. The ones in flight are breath taking.

See what happens when you make lemonaide out of lemons. ;o)

A New England Life said...

Your funny Steve, wanting to stay inside while B snowshoes. lol! It's the other way around with my husband and I. He's forever trying to drag me out into the wild to do some form of exercise.

First of all, B looks so cute, and happy. Hope she is enjoying her new snowshoes. Surprisingly my husband hasn't used his yet this year.

And the hawks ... what a great day! Love the way you captured the white phase. It's been a while since I've seen them up close in our yard but there are still quite a few around.

What a Sunday!

Tabib said...

Fantastic shot and story of how you closed in to get that Red-tail.
That zig zig tract remind me of how soldier ran from a machine gun.

Eve said...

These are wonderful and I'm so glad B talked you into getting the snowshoes. The light was just right for the redtail shots and you did a great job. Congrats on the win!

NCmountainwoman said...

What a great day you had! Lovely pictures to prove it.

Jenny said...

Hi Steve, have found you through Eve at Sunnysideup. I love this post, what beautiful shots of the Red tails. One of those days that will stick in your mind forever!

Mary said...

Wow, those are amazing shots!!! How exciting to see such beautiful birds. We had an immature Cooper's hawk visit our back yard last winter, and I was lucky enough to get a few shots, but nothing as beautiful as your shots... :)

Elaine said...

Gorgeous shots of such majestic birds. I love the shot that shows the feather detail. Aren't you sweet to try to avoid stressing the bird. Well done!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

What luck!! Good for B draging you off when you didn't want to otherwise we would have missed all this. Absolutely terrific shots Steve. When it comes to nature, we have to be sneaky. LOL!!

matthew houskeeper said...

Very beautiful!

Marvin said...

I'd say you had a grand red-tailed day. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your photos.

Ginnymo said...

Beautiful shots of the hawk!!! I love watching the hawks. I have a short video clip of the crows attacking the hawk way up in the sky. They are always doing that. I will have to get my hawk photos on here soon. I'm glad I found your site!! Your photos are breath taking!!

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