Dark morph Swainson's Hawk on the wingDark morph Swainson’s Hawk on the wing – Nikon D7100, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 500, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

I have only culled two days of the six days I photographed up in eastern Idaho and southwestern Montana, I took thousands of images so it will take time to get through them all and sort the bad from the good.

There were fewer raptors this trip than I am used to seeing and I feel concerned about that because in past years the numbers of raptors were much higher. Perhaps the late cold snap in the Centennial Valley forced at least the Swainson’s Hawks to move a bit further south because the cold may have killed the grasshoppers which are their preferred prey.

This dark Swainson’s Hawk was on a hillside that we came upon while leaving the Centennial Valley to head back to Utah. It lifted off after a few moments and I was able to get this image with its wings fully spread and some grasses, sagebrush and blurred flowers in the frame.

Hopefully the next trip there will be more raptors and their young in the areas where I have grown used to seeing them.