To all ye who want to paint with light ...

I should have started this blog many moons ago as I started experiencing the joys of rediscovering the art of photography. But as the saying goes - it's better late, than never!
So, here I am, in the hopes of recording what I learn as I progress from ignorance to enlightenment; about what my eyes can see that my camera can capture; and, what my mind imagines and my camera paints with its capabilities.

Please feel free to add any comments and share your wisdom (tips or tricks) that you have picked up along the way.

And do check out my How-To and Birding pages as well.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 332 - The Story of the Red-Shouldered Hawk

I did some serious birding yesterday - I went deep into the woods, sank my feet into swamps, got scratched by thorns and underbrush, but I managed to get some shots of the Red-Shouldered Hawk couple that is nesting out there.

Red Shouldered Hawk

I had already got a couple of really nice shots of the Northern Flicker and a Thrush earlier during the day, but I still wanted to go out and see what other birds have migrated to these parts.  I didn't think I would get into birding so seriously when I started taking the first bird shots last Spring, but here I am a year later, doing something exciting and educating.

I found the nest quite by chance.  I kept hearing the calls of this hawk, which initially I wasn't aware of being a hawk's call at all!  And as I've become quite adept at following bird calls and then tracking them down, I soon spotted this hawk on a really high branch of a tree deep in the woods.  I took a few first shots of the beautiful bird right from where I stood - this is a habit, even if they don't turn out that well and I ultimately discard, because I need these images to identify them, in case I'm meeting them for the first time.

So, I took the few first shots, and then tried to find a way of getting closer to it.  It meant I would have to walk through the swampy spots, and then walk through the thick brambly bushes to get there, all the while keeping my eye on the subject since I didn't want it flying off to where I wouldn't be able to track it again.

Finally, I came much closer and could now just point my camera right overhead to get a few shots - and that's when I discovered that there was a nest right there, and there was the second hawk that was sitting on the eggs!  What a find!  And all this was possible, because there are still no leaves on the trees, but I'm seeing the buds and my heart sinks at the thought that when the little ones are ready to come out, I might not be able to sight the nest again!  :(

The nesting red-shouldered hawk


I spent close to 2.5 hours watching the movements of both the hawks (and being watched in turn by them) and noticed a couple of crows trying to bother them.  The partner that was standing watch wasn't always near the nest, so the nesting partner would call out and the guardian did the due diligence and chased the crows away from time to time.



I didn't get good shots of the chase through the branches, but got a couple good enough to record the behaviour.  What was funny was that at times, the crow ended up chasing the hawk around!  And what was even more amazing was that there were smaller birds and squirrels flitting around the hawks without an ounce of fear for their lives!  However, there was a little pond just a few feet away, and when I trained my lens on the surface on the little floating bits, I observed they were bird carcasses.  I immediately knew what they indicated!

And while waiting around to see what happens next, I caught one of the hawks finishing off his meal!  Uggh.. that was a little creepy, watching the hawk tear away at its food, but I guess I have to stop feeling squeamish at these things - this is Mother Nature in her truest character!

Dinner Time!

I met three other birders while I kept up my vigil, and had a chance to chat with them to learn that they were serious hobbyists as well.   I actually pointed out the hawks to a couple of them who stood around and took a few pictures.  The third one had me look through his telescopic spotting device that made the hawk seem like it was right in front of me, when in reality it was at least a hundred feet away!  And I just looked it up on the Internet, and that device retails at $2400!  Not much more expensive than my 100 - 400 mm lens, but oh what a difference!

I have posted a few more shots on Flickr, so please feel free to check them out if you are interested in seeing more.


  1. Excellent shots!!! Yes, crows just love harasses hawks. With the red tail hawks, usually there's a couple crows ganging up the hawks.

  2. Thanks, Cathy! Wow.. I never knew that the crows harass even the hawks! They're such pests - including the blackbirds, but even though they're black, they're beautiful!