Foggy Morning Red-tailed Hawks & Turkey Vulture

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Weather forecast 03-26-2107

Weather forecast 03-26-2107

The screen shot above is what the weather forecasters said yesterday was going to look like up in northern Utah.

Foggy morning in Box Elder CountyFoggy morning in Box Elder County – Nikon D810, f10, 1/250, ISO 320, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 18mm, natural light

This… this is what it actually looked like at ground level yesterday morning where I was looking for birds to photograph. Fog that the forecasters didn’t mention. The sky was full of clouds overhead and those clouds blocked the sunlight from getting through. Clouds that weren’t supposed to be there.

Behind the thick bank of fog in the photo above there are mountains. Somewhere.

Over the years I have learned to use the light I have. There wasn’t much light yesterday morning, but there was enough.

Turkey Vulture perched in a fogTurkey Vulture perched in a fog – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/320, ISO 500, +2.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

There was enough light to photograph this Turkey Vulture perched on an old wooden fence post and still show details and sharpness in its feathers despite the fog between the vulture and me. I even got a bit of a catch light in its eye.

Foggy Turkey Vulture portraitFoggy Turkey Vulture portrait – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/250, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

And when we moved forward just a little bit I was too close to get full body photos so I opted to take a few portraits of the Turkey Vulture in the fog.

I have no idea what the white stringy stuff is on the vulture’s shoulder and chest but I kind of wish it weren’t there. It is what it is though and I’m not about to clean it off using the clone tools I have available.

Turkey Vulture in a fog close upTurkey Vulture in a fog close up – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/250, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I could tell I was going to like the foggy Turkey Vulture images by looking at them on my camera LCD, even though I didn’t have much light they turned out well and I added foggy Turkey Vulture photos to my portfolio.

Red-tailed Hawk in a fog lifting one footRed-tailed Hawk in a fog lifting one foot – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 1000, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light, not baited

Then when I found this Red-tailed Hawk I felt I needed to increase my shutter speed because I didn’t know if it was going to perch on the leaning post or lift off right away so I bumped my ISO up to 1000 and I also removed my teleconverter so that if the hawk took off I might have a better chance of not clipping its wings.

The Red-tailed Hawk lifted one of its feet and I thought it was going to take off immediately.

Red-tailed Hawk struggling for balance in a fogRed-tailed Hawk struggling for balance in a fog – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 1000, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light, not baited

It might have done just that because it lifted its wings and seemed to struggle for its balance but it may have been in the process of deciding to stay or take flight.

Red-tailed Hawk balancing in a fogRed-tailed Hawk balancing in a fog – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 1000, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light, not baited

The hawk did lift its wings but it put its raised foot back down on the perch…

Red-tailed Hawk perched on a leaning post in a fog Red-tailed Hawk perched on a leaning post in a fog – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 1000, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light, not baited

 And settled itself on the weather worn post.

It might be hard to believe but in the background of this image there would be some mountains way off in the distance, I couldn’t even see them when I took this photo. That is how foggy it was.

Red-tailed Hawk on a foggy morningRed-tailed Hawk on a foggy morning – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 1000, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light, not baited

The hawk seemed comfortable and I took a bunch more images of it as it perched on the post in the fog turning its head and body as it looked around.

Red-tailed Hawk about to lift off in a fogRed-tailed Hawk about to lift off in a fog – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 1000, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light, not baited

Then when it looked like the hawk might fly because of its posture I got ready to take some flight photos but at the last second it turned its body slightly before lifting off. I liked the pose of the hawk in this photo though I wish I would have had a better view of the face, I can still see light in its eye though. The hawk did lift off this time.

Red-tailed Hawk adult perched in fogRed-tailed Hawk adult perched in fog – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 1000, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light, not baited

And the Red-tailed Hawk flew to a nearby lichen-covered rock that I have been dreaming of getting images of a bird perched on for years. I didn’t get many photos of it there before it flew away but dream accomplished. Finally.

Red-tailed Hawk carrying nesting material in a fogRed-tailed Hawk carrying nesting material in a fog – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/400, ISO 1000, +1.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, , natural light, not baited

I also photographed a mated pair of Red-tailed Hawks flying in with nesting materials later on in the morning. The light wasn’t great because it was still foggy but that pair of red-tails didn’t mind the weather one bit. The stick this hawk flew in with was huge! As determined as the hawk looked when it flew in with the branch I was equally determined to get at least one decent image of it carrying its heavy load and I got a few and I liked this one the best.

It wasn’t “partly sunny” as predicted but I enjoyed myself while photographing the Turkey Vulture and Red-tailed Hawks on a foggy morning even though it tested my skills and techniques.

Life is good.

Mia

Sorry for the large number of photos this morning, I felt they were needed to tell the story but I know it can cause longer loading times.

8 Comments

  1. April Olson March 27, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    Beautiful, I like fog. I like the way is dampens sounds and shrouds the scenery in misty veils. I think the white stingy substance on the vulture’s shoulder is feather fragment of the downy body interior feathers.

  2. Elephant's Child March 27, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    I am a lover of fog. Magic. Mystery.
    Fog with birds? Bonus time.
    Thank you.

  3. Utahbooklover March 27, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    I enjoyed this series. Felt like I was there with you. Thanks for making life better!

  4. Patty Chadwick March 27, 2017 at 10:03 am

    I like the whole series but my favorite is definitely the second…the turkey vulture, with the devil wire and the mysterious fog make the perfect combination!!! That is quite a big stick that hawk is carrying-must be some nest!

  5. Glen Fox March 27, 2017 at 6:59 am

    Beautiful images Mia ..that soft, even light is fantastic when handled skillfully. Glen

  6. Bob mcpherson March 27, 2017 at 6:49 am

    Great photos, Mia. Difficult situation,but you came, you saw and Adapted. Good job.

  7. Kim March 27, 2017 at 6:36 am

    Love the red-tailed hawk images. Beautiful!

  8. Liz Cormack March 27, 2017 at 6:34 am

    I’m sitting here laughing at myself over the last photo. When I saw it I thought, ‘Wow, the fog has obliterated the rest of the branch’…..until I read your caption. That is quite the branch for nesting material. I find both Black Vultures & Turkey Vultures to be so cooperative. Great photos.

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