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PIC OF THE WEEK: 12/08/14 • PREVIOUS WEEKNEXT WEEKALL 2014 PICS

Bird Pic Of The Week

Red-tailed Hawk

(Buteo jamaicensis)

Where: Hilton Head Island, SC • Sea Pines Plantation

Notes: We were busy loading our gear in the back of the vehicle, to go explore another location. As we packed, this hawk landed overhead, high atop a nearby Longleaf Pine Tree. After a couple of minutes it took off, darting across the parking lot with its wings arched. We heard the crash of dry Palmetto fronds, but never saw the bird fly out. So we grabbed or cameras and crept over to the landing site to take a look. There, just beyond the hedgerow, this young “Red-tail” was on the ground with its wings covering its catch. Slowly stepping back and away, the hawk suddenly flew up to an eye level perch, only about fifteen feet away. Having grabbed the camera in a hurry, without the tripod, I utilized a nearby tree, both to hide behind and to stabilize the camera and heavy lens. At this short distance, portrait shots were all that was possible (right top). Then, the raptor flew up to a nearby Live Oak Tree with its quarry. At first it was difficult to find a clear vantage point between the twigs and branches with good lighting. When this happens, I typically search for a clearer window by circling the subject at the distance I would like to photograph from. Finally finding such a spot with bioth the best light direction and background possible. Sometime raptors will stay at one location and eat their kill, so I made a quick trip back to the car to get the tripod. We photographed this bird for nearly forty-five minutes. At one point it crouched down and opened its wings a bit into this strange position called mantling. I had no idea that it could raise its back feathers in such a fashion, as it covered its prey. It turns out that a juvenile Bald Eagle had flown over the tree at just that moment and the hawk was trying to hide its meal. Bald Eagles are known to be aggressive scavengers and will even take fish from Osprey. As sad as it is for the Squirrel, it was good to see that this young raptor was able to provide for itself, as it helped control the local Squirrel population.

Small Bird Photo 1

Small Bird Photo 2

MORE: RED-TAILED HAWK PHOTOS

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Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark III • Canon 600mm f-4 Prime USM L Series Lens • Gitzo 3531LS Tripod • Wimberly Head WH-101

Exposure: Shutter Speed = 1/640 second • Aperture = f-4 • Exposure Mode = Aperture Priority • Focus Mode: One Shot • Lens (Focal) Length = 600 mm • ISO = 800 • Aprox. Camera Distance = ~45 Feet • Date Shot: 11-30-14

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