Friday, April 17, 2015

Expect the Unexpected

I just learned, or relearned, a lesson about being prepared.  Made a short drive to a nearby park to scout an abandoned road known to have a lot of birds.  I wasn't seeing a lot of birds, until I was nearly back to my car.  A beautiful Redtail Hawk flew in over my head and landed in a willow tree beside the road. I admired him with my binoculars and continued toward the bird, as a single crow fussed at the hawk. As I drew closer, the hawk flew very low over me and landed beside the road. Binoculars revealed that the hawk was returning to a rabbit kill. All I had was my cell camera. I had not expected the unexpected.

The Redtail Hawk held its ground, feeding eagerly, and allowed me to approach to a mere 12 feet.  It showed no concern with me, but that was my limit. I got low and attempted a photo with a very inadequate, wide angle lens.  My cropped image is below. Not very good.

I felt pretty stupid.  Not wanting to stress the bird which I decided was a juvenile, I walked back to the car  hoping that in the early morning, I could be there with a "real" camera when it returned. I was in the car with the key in the ignition when I felt pretty silly.  My full camera kit was in the trunk.  But, I also was elated to reverse course.  Now, birds don't see you in a car, so that greatly reduces any stress on the bird. I slowly drove back with my big lens and true to form, the bird ignored the car. Here is what I got for my effort.

It is a beautiful bird in nice warm light.  Soon, I backed out and went home with the idea that the hawk would again be there in the early morning.  Sure enough, I arrived to see it perched in a large tree next to the road.

I eased the car to the place I'd seen the rabbit, but it was not there.  I thought, "not a good sign", and backed  the car to where I could watch the hawk; it was attracting a chorus of Blue Jays and smaller birds.  It was a mob.  The hawk seemed to tire of this and swooped away into the dense brush near the kill.  After a wait, I eased there to see it pulling the rabbit back out. It had hidden its kill for the  night. Interesting. The hawk just about finished off the rabbit, and then "posed" for one last photo.

Hopefully, I learned my lesson.  My good fortune revealed some very close details on a glorious bird, and some greater understanding of hawk behavior. I'm hoping this juvenile will stay in the area and have continued success. The first year is pretty tough on a predator.

Be prepared.


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