Tuesday afternoon bird photo: Cooper's Hawk

Photography is part skill, part equipment, and mostly lots of luck. I really lucked out on this shot.  I took it on a very cold day - high of 22 degrees - in a national wildlife refuge that is mostly only accessible by car. I knew I wouldn't be able to take being out in those temperatures for very long at a time, not to mention that my camera might not operate well under those circumstances. So I chose that wildlife refuge for my day off outing. It turned out to be a great idea.

I had been driving down a road that was next to an area that had been flooded for wildlife use (the photos of the ibis I've posted for the last couple of days were from that spot) with my car window down in case I saw something to photograph. (Getting out of the car usually caused the wildlife to skeedaddle away, another lucky thing for me on such a cold day.)

I saw a flurry of activity in the trees and a couple of small birds flying by very fast. That captured my attention and I stopped the car. Behind them was this hawk. Frustrated by his lack of success with those birds, he landed on this branch and looked over his shoulder, perhaps in embarrassment - was anybody watching? And there I was, sitting in my car with camera ready.

So that was luck. The other lucky thing was that I had set the camera on a setting that turned out to be the right one. With my new camera, this is not always a given.

I had a friend once who felt that he wanted to deepen his spiritual life. He was struggling with his faith. So he came to church every week and enrolled in EfM (Education for Ministry, a 4-year layperson's class that teaches church history, Biblical scholarship, theology and such, to equip people for ministry in the world). Someone asked him why, if he had doubts, he did so much stuff at church. His response was, if you want to get run over by a car, you should go lie down in the road.

So I take that advice about wildlife photography. If I want to photograph animals in their habitat, I need to go there and spend a lot of time there and keep my eyes peeled. I need to be prepared with my equipment (including appropriate clothing!). I need to be patient. And I need to be ready to grab on to any wonderful thing that happens in front of me.


Ray Barnes said…
Well all that preparation certainly paid off Penny. What a terrific shot. He seems to be saying "what are you staring at"?
I admire your fortitude to say nothing of your photographic skill.
Another great one for the 'book'.
Thank you, Ray. It did pay off. I am sure that the hawk was trying to look like he "meant to do that" when he failed to catch his bird. I feel so privileged to be able to walk among these elusive creatures and am glad when I catch an image to share. (I try not to focus too much on the ones that got away!)