To say these hawks are elusive would be an extreme understatement. Whether male or female, Northern #Harriers rarely allow you to get close and their erratic, low flight patterns make getting a decent picture difficult.
The males, seen here, are probably the hardest of the two and are quick to avoid people and pictures – hence its nickname, the Gray Ghost. Yesterday I was lucky enough to come across one north of Denver International Airport that gave me a few nice captures as it flew by.
It isn’t too often these raptors come close but yesterday I really lucked out. This Harrier was hunting a field in Adams County, Colorado. I sat and watched, hoping it might come close. Not only did it come close, it flew within about 20 feet of me. The lighting was tough due to clouds but the pics didn’t come out too bad.
You’ll find these hawks across much of North America, Europe and Asia depending on the season. Typically they fly very fast and low to the ground using their keen eyesight and hearing to spot and listen for their prey.
Patrolling low over a snow-covered field, this female Harrier saw something of interest. In a heartbeat she dropped to the ground, landing right on its prey. I’m not sure what is captured, likely a vole or mouse although I couldn’t see any sort of tail. It was kind of fun to witness, even if a good ways off in the field.
Well, not really a ghost and not on film but you get the idea. 😉
Northern Harriers are notoriously difficult to get good pictures of. Their erratic flight patterns mere feet off the ground coupled with their reluctance to come close to humans make getting pictures of them a challenge.
Females are brown in color but males are this gorgeous gray and white pattern, hence the nickname the gray ghost. The male also seems to be more elusive and reclusive – at least it always has been to me. I have historically had little luck getting quality images of the gray ghost, something which has been frustrating.
Last week I finally was able to capture my first decent images of one as it hunted a field north of Denver International Airport, Colorado. Such a beautiful raptor and those yellow, piercing eyes are mesmerizing.
In addition to North America, these hawks are found in Asia and Europe where they are called Hen Harriers.
Scroll down to view the complete series of images of the gray ghost.
These hawks are notoriously difficult to get quality images of. They rarely sit still and when they fly, they move fast and low to the ground with very erratic movements.
Thankfully this female was taking a break from hunting and gave me a brief opportunity to get a nice image of her. She did however keep close watch on me with those piercing, yellow eyes. Given the many times these raptors have frustrated me, I was absolute ecstatic with this capture.
Northern Harriers are believed to have extraordinary hearing allowing them to hone in on their prey.
My photo excursions this weekend were a bit disappointing. Either lighting was horrible or subject matter elusive. I’ve got a few things to share though including this one.
This female Harrier was working the fields north of Denver International Airport looking for breakfast this morning. Yesterday we received a bit of snow and as usual that seemed to bring these raptors out in force as there were quite a few on the prowl.
With the Denver International Airport tower in the background, it appeared this female Northern ??Harrier? and been ordered to delay take off. While she was waiting for clearance to take off on Saturday, I was able to snap this image of her.
Staying true to her species, she didn’t wait long though and soon took to the air being sure to take a flight path that prevented me from getting any decent pics of her. I love these hawks but my goodness they can be frustrating to get quality pictures of. They are quite skittish, always on the move and always low to the ground making focusing difficult.
Working together, some fellow shutterbugs and I were able to find a Snowy Owl in rural Adams County, Colorado yesterday. We were absolutely giddy with excitement, even if the owl stayed a good ways away and never let us get very close.
While I managed some ‘okay’ pics of just the owl, this particularly event was the most interesting. Out of the blue, a Northern Harrier flew in and started making high speed passes at the owl. It was clear the hawk did not appreciate the Arctic visitor intruding on its hunting grounds. It never did actually strike but came quite close and certainly made its feelings about the owl’s presence known.
It was a lot of fun to watch but I couldn’t help but be yelling inside, “leave the owl alone!” Snowy Owls are such a rarity, I didn’t want anything to scare if off. 😉
These hawks have always proven elusive for me. They are quite skittish and their flight patterns have them flying erratically and low to the ground making them tough to zero in on. Much to my surprise, I came across this female today just as she snagged a meal. Best of all, she let me grab some pictures of her chowing down before she decided she preferred privacy for the rest of her meal. It was a good morning for me, a good meal for the raptor and a really, really bad day for the mouse. 😉
Taken in Commerce City, Colorado. Scroll down to view the complete series.
This female Northern Harrier at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal seemed to be enjoying the relative warmth of a winter’s evening. These are absolutely gorgeous raptors but one of the most difficult to get pictures of. They rarely sit still and when they fly, they move fast and low to the ground with very erratic movements. Taken January 25, 2013.