A juvenile Red-tailed Hawk at Blue Creek Spring

/, Box Elder County, Red-tailed Hawks, Utah/A juvenile Red-tailed Hawk at Blue Creek Spring

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on prey at a hot springsJuvenile Red-tailed Hawk on prey at a hot springs – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/4000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

The first bird saw on New Year’s Day was a Red-tailed Hawk perched on a pole next to the road on I-15 heading north near Ogden, Utah. The first bird I photographed in 2016 was a Bald Eagle at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the last bird I photographed on the first day of 2016 was a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk. Through the steamy mists of a hot spring I found a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk at Blue Creek Spring in Box Elder County and I hoped to get a few decent images of it.  I could see that the hawk was on prey but it was hard to see what the prey was because of the snow in front of it and the mist that swirled around the hawk.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk in steam from the hot springsJuvenile Red-tailed Hawk in steam from the hot springs – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I was mesmerized by the steamy mist that would hide the young hawk, reveal it and then hide it again. Utah’s landscape is dotted with many hot springs but this is the one I am most familiar with because I go there looking for birds to photograph. In the winter the steam rises from the creek as vapor and coats everything along the shore with frost, it can be quite beautiful to see. I took these first two images only two seconds apart and enjoyed comparing the differences in them because of the density of the mist.

Red-tailed Hawk juvenile rousingRed-tailed Hawk juvenile rousing – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

The slightest breeze can make the mists move and that is what happened just when the juvenile hawk roused, the parting mist allowed nice light on the bird.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk landing next to a hot springJuvenile Red-tailed Hawk landing next to a hot spring – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

And when the hawk lifted off to move to a new spot on the shoreline the hawk seemed to glow in the light with the mists rising in the background and over the snow. I’d really prefer having a great view of the bird’s face but this image was too unique to skip sharing it here.

Hot springs and a Red-tailed Hawk juvenileHot springs and a Red-tailed Hawk juvenile – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

There was more of the prey in front of the Red-tailed Hawk in this frame but even when the mists would clear I couldn’t make out what it was, I could only see feathers.

A juvenile Red-tailed Hawk flying over a hot springA juvenile Red-tailed Hawk flying over a hot spring – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

After a bit the juvenile Red-tailed Hawk lifted off and flew through the rising mists towards a fence post at the top of a hill and landed.  I don’t mind the tail end view in this frame either, it was a fitting end to a wonderful morning photographing birds on New Year’s Day.

Life is good.

Mia

Some information on the Blue Creek Valley of Box Elder County.

5 Comments

  1. Elephant's Child January 2, 2016 at 11:25 am

    When butt shots are a bonus….
    Love the mist too.

  2. April Olson January 2, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Beautiful misty shots. I have a question for you if you don’t mind me asking. I was recently attempting a misty shot of a great blue and I had trouble getting the camera to focus sharply on the bird. It wanted to focus on the mist. What setting should I be working with to get around this?

  3. Wally January 2, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Magnificent images of the handsome youngster! The tail-end view is quite special. After all, the tail IS his namesake. That mist provides an ethereal atmosphere to the scene which is really unique.

  4. Bob Mcpherson January 2, 2016 at 6:26 am

    Beautiful images and commentary Mia, Please do take a Bow.

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