Male American Kestrel hovering – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited, no decoy
Hovering Kestrel shots aren’t easy to capture without baiting or using decoys, part of that is because I can’t tell when a kestrel might get it in its mind to hover for prey, the other part is being in the right place at the right time. I can’t even remember how many times I have seen kestrels hovering that were too far away or hovering right over me in really horrendous light or how many times they are hovering close by but facing the wrong way. Seeing them hover and being unable to get the images is very frustrating.
Hovering American Kestrel - Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited, no decoy
I photographed this male American Kestrel hovering while on the causeway leaving Antelope Island and I was able to get images with light in the birds eyes in fairly decent light but I still hope I can get images like this with some clouds in the sky and a little bit closer. I do think these images show the great poses of a hovering kestrel and how handsome our smallest kestrel in North America is.
It seems that I don’t just have “nemesis birds”, I also have “nemesis dream shots” too.
More American Kestrel images
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Portrait of a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk – Nikon D70, handheld. f5.6, 1/200, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 300mm, flash fired, not baited
In July of 2007 I was fortunate to follow and photograph a family of Red-shouldered Hawks at Sawgrass County Park in Florida for a few weeks when the fledglings were learning to hunt for themselves. Because Sawgrass County Park has a high number of visitors each day the hawks were used to people and didn’t flush easily.
This juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk was perched on a metal fencepost so I opted to go for a portrait to remove the “hand of man”. My EXIF information doesn’t list the ISO used for this shot but I do know that the auto flash fired. I was still using my Nikon D70 when all of these images were created.
Red-shouldered Hawk juvenile – Nikon D70, handheld, f5.6, 1/320, ISO 640, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 300mm, flash fired, not baited
The day after the portrait above was taken I was back at Sawgrass County Park hoping for decent light and to find the young hawks again, I found the Red-shouldered juveniles but the light wasn’t great because of thunder storms rolling through the area. I had been photographing this immature Red-Shouldered Hawk as it perched in a pine tree when it flew directly at me and as it flew over my head I could feel the whoosh of air from its wings. I thought the young hawk was going to carry off the straw hat I was wearing but as I turned I could see it had landed on the ground about 20 feet from me and was dispatching what appeared to be a Palmetto Bug.
Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk trying to catch a Yellow Rat Snake – Nikon D70, handheld, f4.8, 1/400, ISO 1000, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 80mm, flash fired, not baited
Not long after the juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk ate the Palmetto Bug I could hear another Red-tailed Hawk calling and the hawk I was photographing flew towards the sound. I slowly followed the sound and used the trunks of trees as a blind as I walked. I came up on two young Red-shouldered Hawks, one on the fence and the other was perched higher in a tree above the hawk you see in this frame. The hawks were very interested in trying to catch this Yellow Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) that had woven its body through the links of the fence. I took a few images and left because I didn’t want to disrupt the hawks.
The next time I went to the park I measured one of the square links in the fence and according to my calculations this snake was over 6 foot in length. Sorry about the poor quality of the last image, it was dark under the trees and there was a light rain falling but I did want to capture the interactions I was observing.
I enjoyed following this family of Red-shouldered Hawks that summer.
Dancing dark morph Reddish Egret – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 200, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 300mm, natural light
These two Reddish Egrets; a dark and a white morph, were photographed on the same day at Fort De Soto’s north beach in May of 2009 and both of them were showing signs of being in breeding plumage. This dark morph wasn’t quite in full breeding plumage because the bill would be pinker and the lores a deeper blue if it were but it was close. Dark morphs are far more common than white morphs and I felt lucky to photograph both morphs on the same day.
I photographed this Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) in a tidal lagoon while sitting in the water as the bird danced around me on the hunt for prey. My Nikkor 80-400mm VR was off being repaired so that day I was using my Nikkor 70-300mm VR for all the bird images I took. This egret was so busy hunting that it paid me no mind at all as it rushed around the lagoon. There were a few times I thought the bird was going to run right into me.
I like the bird’s pose, eye contact and the action this image conveys as well as how it shows the water, shore, wrack line and the sand dune in the background.
Hunting white morph Reddish Egret – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 250, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 250mm, natural light
This white morph Reddish Egret was busy hunting in the Gulf of Mexico when I photographed it. It’s lores are a deep purplish blue and the black-tipped bill is very pink. I was sitting on the sand of the shoreline as the egret raced around trying to catch prey where the waves broke and like the dark morph, this bird all but ignored my presence.
Reddish Egrets are sometimes called “Drunken Sailors” because of their movements while hunting, they often wobble, twirl, dance and seem to stumble. It is very amusing and entertaining to see and photograph and they never failed to delight me.
More Reddish Egret images
Hunting Tricolored Heron – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/750, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 270mm, natural light, not baited
A few weeks ago back I posted a Tricolored Heron in breeding plumage and today I wanted to post an image of one in nonbreeding plumage from 2009. In this image the heron’s legs are yellow, the eyes are a watermelon pink and the lores are yellow, in breeding plumage the legs are pinkish red, the eyes are a darker red and the lores and the upper portion of the bill are almost a cobalt blue.
When I photographed this hunting Tricolored Heron I was laying flat on my belly in the shallows where the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico gently lapped the shore. I found that if I laid very still that this heron would approach me very closely, at times it was too close to focus on.
More Tricolored Heron images