Prairie Falcon – Eureka Again!

Perched Prairie Falcon

 Perched Prairie Falcon - Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 800, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up

I had another post on a different subject almost ready to publish this morning but decided to wait until I came back from going out photographing today. It didn’t look like the light was going to be great but a storm is coming in and it might be 3-4 days before I can get out in the field with my camera. Today was a day of surprises.

What can I say? I was tickled pink this past week when I was able to create images of Rough-legged Hawks, a bird that had been a nemesis for me but today I just couldn’t believe my luck with this first year Prairie Falcon. I could have been knocked over with the proverbial feather. Plus, I had decent light!

Young Prairie Falcon getting ready for lift off

 Young Prairie Falcon getting ready for lift off – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up

I’ve seen Prairie Falcons since moving to Utah but they have always been too far away to photograph, until last week when Ron and I came across a Prairie Falcon that swooped down towards a Peregrine Falcon on prey, the Peregrine left the prey (a Ruddy Duck) and the Prairie Falcon began to eat it.  I did take images of that Prairie Falcon and I was close enough to get full frame images. But… the light was horrible! It was cloudy and the light was very low plus there was foliage in front of the bird as it ate the prey on the ground. I took way too many images that just ended up being deleted. I was very disappointed.

So there I was this morning thinking that a Northern Harrier was coming at us in the distance when both of us realized at the same moment that the bird wasn’t a harrier at all, it was a hunting Prairie Falcon!

First year Prairie Falcon

First year Prairie Falcon – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up

The Prairie Falcon would hunt for a bit then perch where it could survey its surroundings and then hunt some more. It flew down and landed on this rock with the Great Salt Lake behind it and posed for several minutes before it showed some signs that it was going to take off again. I wish I had zoomed back a little bit because it did some full wing stretches before these images were taken, but unfortunately I clipped the wing tips. I still was able to get some action shots that I am happy with though.

Wow, two nemesis birds photographed in a week, this Prairie Falcon was amazing. I’ll be grinning (and dancing) about this for quite awhile!

Mia

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