Red-tailed Hawk, midges and low light – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 2500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
Yesterday morning three different radar/satellite showed very few clouds north of Salt Lake City and since I had been cooped up for so long it seemed like heading north was a good thing to do to get out, photograph birds, see a little sunshine and relax in the field.
Wrong. The radar/satellite images were wrong, wrong, wrong. There were clouds, lots and lots of clouds.
I always try to be optimistic, positive and to do the best I can do with the light I have but I will tell you something… the light was so bad that even my eyes were struggling yesterday to see and identify birds, they just looked like dark, bird-shaped blobs.
I would have been totally skunked yesterday if I hadn’t spotted the top of this Red-tailed Hawk’s head and some wing movement where it was buried in a sagebrush next to a hillside. I quickly bumped my ISO up to 2500 just to get some shutter speed. When it flew to a second bush I could see more of its body than I could on the first bush but the light was so bad that I am not very happy with this photo but I wanted to share it anyway because when I got home and viewed it on my monitor I could see a cloud of midges around the bird. Those teeny little salt & pepper looking spots above and around the hawk are the midges.
Red-tailed Hawk landing on sage in low light – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/320, ISO 2500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
When the Red-tailed Hawk took off from the second bush and flew south I was able to track it and photograph it as it landed on a third bush. There is quite a lot of motion blur shown here on the tail and the wing tips but even at ISO 2500 my shutter speed was slow. It was definitely frustrating but at least I was out photographing a bird. Right?
I’m pretty sure the Red-tailed Hawk was looking for nesting materials but I wouldn’t bet my totally imaginary farm on it. After the hawk took off from this sagebrush it flew up high and circled around the top of a cliff for a bit before it disappeared from my sight.
Cloudy skies over Box Elder County and the Great Salt Lake – Nikon D810, f10, 1/2000, ISO 500, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 18mm, natural light
This is what the skies looked like most of the time I was looking for birds yesterday morning. This is not what the radar/satellite showed. At all.
On the up side I did hear a Long-billed Curlew yesterday but I didn’t see it in the absolutely cruddy light, I heard a Sora calling, saw and heard my first of the year Say’s Phoebe and to my delight I also saw my first of the year Turkey Vultures. I saw Tundra Swans flying overhead, one Golden Eagle, one immature Bald Eagle, several Northern Harriers and one Rough-legged Hawk. There were little birds too but in the gloom they were just little dark blobs that I couldn’t ID.
I am glad I went if for nothing else to get out of the house and to see the birds but I sure wish the light had been better.
Life is good.