Saturday I posted a photo slideshow of this encounter and promised I would later post some individual pics of the action shown in it. Here you go. These give you a closer look at some of the incredible action that took place. I definitely would recommend checking out the slideshow here too if you haven’t.
Well, this was one awesome encounter! I happened across this young female northern harrier as it was eating some rabbit leftovers.
As I was photographing it, the harrier suddenly leaped into the air and out of nowhere a prairie falcon appears and tries to steal the rabbit! It wasn’t successful on the first attempt so it circled for a second try, pulling up at the last minute.
The falcon was not done though. It circled for a third and final try and this time, success! As it flew off with the rabbit remains, it began to lose its grip, eventually dropping the meal to the ground. The thief decided it was all too much effort and continued on, giving up, while the harrier flew over and was able to finish its meal in peace.
While some of the pics aren’t all that great, it was a ton of fun to see. As there were so many pics to tell the story, I figured a video slideshow would be the best way to present them. Best viewed full screen. I will share some of the standalone images later today.
My photo excursion Saturday was not as eventful as I would have hoped but I did get some decent captures of these cool hawks allowing me a chance to showcase the difference between the two genders of the species.
Male northern harriers are oftentimes called the “gray ghost” due to their gray plumage and piercing yellow eyes. The coloring of females is entirely different with brown plumage and while not as striking as the males, they are beautiful in their own right.
They both have an owl-like face with stiff feathers forming a ring around their head helping to direct sound to their ears, allowing them to hunt by hearing as well as sight. You will oftentimes find them in open land, particularly near drainages, flying low and fast with their heads down as they look and listen for prey.
Harriers are very difficult to photograph due to their low flight path and erratic patterns but also very fun to watch.
One of my favorite wintertime raptors in Colorado! While some of these guys hang around during the summer, northern harriers are most often seen in the winter.
That does not necessarily mean they are easy to photograph. In fact, they are quite difficult as they fly very low to the ground, moving erratically as they hunt for prey. This past Sunday, I was fortunate enough to come across this handsome fellow and he was nice and gave me a good flyby.
Female harriers are pretty in their own right and colored entirely differently, being brown. Males, with their white underbellies, gray top coat and piercing yellow eyes are just gorgeous and unusual. Throw in their propensity for being shy and hard to photograph and their nickname of “gray ghost” is quite fitting.
One of my favorite raptors and an image from nine months ago that I haven’t shared before. I have started working on end of year photo projects and came across this gem.
It was a chilly, crisp morning when I spotted the female harrier patrolling a field. Normally they aren’t too cooperative but this one proved to be an exception. She gave me tons of pictures as she was intent on confining her hunt to a relatively small area.
I managed captures of multiple flybys and a bunch of her posing when she would take breaks between flights.
Finally. Geez. It has been a long time since I have been able to get decent pics of a male northern harrier as recent encounters have provided stark reminders of why they are called the “gray ghost.”
While driving some backroads northeast of Denver yesterday, one was hunting the drainage along side the road, a common sight and a good way to find them. Recent attempts to get in front of them to get a picture always had them veering off before I could get a decent shot.
This handsome fellow took mercy on me and gave me a nice little flyby. These guys are just crazy cool with that gray plumage and brilliant yellow eyes.
You will notice their owl-like face. They say that the shape of the face allows sounds to be focused to their ears allowing these #hawks to hear their prey even before they see them.
A northern harrier circles a field, hunting for prey. Taken this past weekend in what was one of my top photo sessions ever with one of these awesome hawks.
I spotted this pretty lady sitting on top of a hay bale at Barr Lake State Park, Colorado. True to form, she took off as I approached but landed only 30 yards or so away.
That, of course, was an open invitation to see what else I could do with her. I would spend a half hour with her, photographing her as she alternated between flying over the fields hunting and taking breaks and posing.
I shot over 300 images of her, getting some of the best flight shots and static poses of a northern #harrier that I have ever captured. When all was said and done, I was grinning ear-to-ear and extraordinarily pleased with the images from the encounter.
Taken with my #Canon EOSR5 and my new Canon RF 100-500 lens which I am quickly falling in love with.
A fun, surprise encounter with this beautiful lady. I had some time to kill recently so decided to walk around an open space area I had never been to before. It was a good thing I had my camera with me because soon I spotted this hawk, gliding over the terrain, clearly looking for a meal.
Most of the time, she had her head down, scanning the ground but for a bit she picked her head up giving me this nice capture. In fact, I ended up with a very nice series of her, one of the best I have ever gotten of a harrier.
You’ll find Harriers across much of North America, Europe and Asia depending on the season. Here we call them Northern Harriers but in other spots on the globe they are known as Hen Harriers, Harrier Hawks or Marsh Hawks.
You see these fast-moving hawks often on the plains of Colorado but getting a picture? Good luck! Their speed coupled with their low-altitude flights and erratic patterns make it tough.
Sometimes though you can get lucky, as was the case with this pretty lady.
She was patrolling the side of a road as they often do (ditches are a great place for mice) so I positioned myself in front of her hoping she would continue on her path and thankfully she did.
You’ll find Northern Harriers across much of North America, Europe and Asia depending on the season. As they fly, they use their keen eyesight and hearing to spot and listen for their prey.
A fast but fun encounter with this cool, female yesterday. She was patrolling the rural roads of eastern Colorado and flew right by me.
These hawks are quite common here, particularly during the winter. They are, however, not easy to get pics of as they fly fast and low in very erratic patterns.
That owl-like face of theirs serves a purpose in that it focuses sound to their ears as they fly. This allows them to hear their prey in the brush below, sometimes before they even see it.