Finally and what a great opportunity. The last weekend of the Seattle Audubon Master Birder Class was a fieldtrip to Eastern Washington. Our instructor Dennis Paulson had a surprise for us! While it was 10 AM when we were at the nest site, the haze didn't detract from the amazing sense of awe I felt when I was there. (I used the new Lightroom CC Dehaze Filter in the Effects Panel, on all of these images.) We saw one adult and three chicks in the nest. While I've been to many places where there were Ferruginous Hawks, I wasn't sure I'd ever seen one. Well, no mistaking it this time.
I had a Palouse Landscape Photography Workshop to teach two days after the final Master Birder Fieldtrip, so stopped by the nest again. By standing behind the fence, and moving slightly away, East down the fence line, from the nest I could get a better angle with the sun at my back and pointed directly at the hawk's nest. This also kept me far enough away that my presence didn't impact them. All that and I brought the 600 mm lens with an 1.4 Extender so I could get the maximum amount of reac. (600 times 1.4 Extender times 1.6 crop factor on the 7D Mark II equals 1,344 mm of effective focal length or reach!)
This time there was less haze, I was there three hours earlier, and I could spend some time just watching and hanging out with the largest buteo in North America. The adult moved from the telephone poles behind me to the nest and from the nest to the top of the windmill, keeping close by.
Back again on June 8th (yes another Palosue Landscape Photography Workshop) so why not stop by it's just a couple of hours out of the way). They've grown fast, and looked like they were about to fledge, so I was very happy I could come back.
I didn't expect to see this, but I guess in the back of my mind I was hoping for it! One of them takes off, the first flight wasn't far, just to the windmill reservior maybe 30 feet down and away. When I left an hour later the fledgling was on the ground near the water reservoir. I'd noticed on May 8th when both parents were around, and they were hanging out in the shade below some sagebrush, so maybe this youngster had figured that out too, a little cooler off the nest platform.
On a mission, not to attack me, but looking through the lens that's what I thought. The adult Ferruginous Hawk was headed for the telephone pole behind me. It did make me think about ducking out of the way though! The adults weren't around very much on June 8th, one came by an dropped off some food, then flew towards me and up onto the telephone pole.
After the Palouse Photography Workshop I was headed to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for a 3-day Bird Photography Workshop. We had another Ferruginous Hawk nest again, with three chicks and one adult. As always, it seems like when you break the ice on a nemesis bird, then they're everywhere and you can't miss them. I'd probably driven by the nest at Malheur dozens of times and not known it was there.
I've been meaning to post thsese images for awhile, but now with a break in leading workshops I can finally get caught up.
Enjoy! Thanks Tim