A Very Obliging Swainson’s Hawk Juvenile

Juvenile Swainson's Hawk portraitJuvenile Swainson’s Hawk portrait – Nikon D810, f9, 1/800, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited or setup

I am back from another amazing camping trip to southwestern Montana and I am a bit exhausted but elated too. I saw clouds, sunshine, wind and snow and the lowest temp was 11°F. Brr! There were plenty of birds some days and a dearth of them at other times but all in all I am very pleased with the images I came back with.

For three days I had great fun photographing two very obliging Swainson’s Hawk juveniles at the east end of the Centennial Valley and by obliging I mean they were very approachable. Vehicles passed by them at a distance of about 6 feet and they didn’t even flinch.

I was able to get close ups of this juvenile from the road as it perched on a fencepost and scanned the fields for grasshoppers. I just love the shades of browns, tans and cream colored plumage of this light morph juvenile Swainson’s. I also appreciate the great look at the bill, lores and luminescent eye.

Calling juvenile Swainson's HawkCalling juvenile Swainson’s Hawk – Nikon D810, f9, 1/800, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light, not baited or setup

The young Swainson’s still called quite often for the adult that was nearby but out of the range of my lens and on the wrong side of the light. This young bird of prey will soon be making a journey of thousands of miles to South America if it hasn’t already headed that way. For the last couple of days in Montana it wasn’t at the location where I photographed it but I am not sure if they migrated or if the hundreds of cows that were moved into that area of the refuge kept them away.

Over the next few days I will most likely be sitting at my computer culling a couple of thousand images and selecting some of them to share here on my blog along with the stories behind the images.

It is good to be back home but it is always hard for me to say goodbye to the Centennial Valley and its wild inhabitants for the year. I’ll miss it.


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Merlin Magic

Magic Merlin Merlin – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/160, ISO 1000, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Just a short Merlin post today from my Montana trip, a teaser of images I will soon be posting.


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Little Blue Heron portrait

Little Blue Heron portraitLittle Blue Heron portrait – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/400, ISO 500, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light, not baited

This is another image I came across last week and wondered why I hadn’t processed it because I don’t have many Little Blue Heron portraits in my portfolio. I like the heron’s look of concentration and the color of the water.

I had been photographing the Little Blue while sitting quietly in the lagoon and the heron moved much closer to me than I had expected a few times it came too close for me to focus on it. It didn’t seem to care at all about the crazy woman with the one big glass eye. I think I had never processed it because the neck of the bird isn’t sharply in focus due to my depth of field. I could have changed that but my shutter speed would have been too slow to photograph this active bird.

A friend of mine says I am too tough on myself in regards to my photography. Maybe they are right.


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Calling juvenile Black-necked Stilt

Calling juvenile Black-necked StiltCalling juvenile Black-necked Stilt

There has been a theme for my posts this week, shorebirds and birds from the shore and so far they have all been from Florida but today I am mixing it up and sharing a juvenile Black-necked Stilt image that I created last month here in Utah. Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management area is a great place to see Black-necked Stilts during the breeding season and to see their young later on.

Between calling American Avocets and Black-necked Stilts it can get a bit noisy at times but for me it is a good kind of noise. Much better than the ticking of a clock reminding me of deadlines it is more like the melody of the season.


Still wandering!

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Wilson’s Plover at sunrise

Wilson's Plover at sunriseWilson’s Plover at sunrise – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

A few days ago when I posted an American Oystercatcher I mentioned that some shorebirds were year round residents at Fort De Soto and that others were migrants. Wilson’s Plovers are year round residents that I photographed every month of the year while I lived in Florida. Wilson’s Plovers nest at Fort De Soto and I have been fortunate to see and photograph their young (from a respectful distance of course).

Killdeer and Wilson’s Plovers look similar in appearance but Wilson’s Plovers have a single breast band and Killdeer have two. Killdeer are also larger.

The tide was out the morning I photographed this Wilson’s Plover just after the sun had come up. There are some photographers that would have passed on photographing this plover because they don’t care for the muddy setting but I love to photograph birds in their natural settings even if that includes mud. It is their habitat.

I was covered in mud after laying in the mudflat to photograph this Wilson’s Plover and I didn’t mind a bit.

Another shorebird to honor World Shorebirds’ Day.


I’m probably watching the sunrise in a the wilderness. Feel free to share!

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