When asked to name my favorite avian species I always bristle a bit at the question but if pressed on the subject I’ll sometimes provide a short list of candidates and I must admit that the Northern Harrier is likely to be the first one mentioned. The vanity plate on my pickup (and at the top of this blog page) is evidence that can’t be denied that I do play favorites to some degree.
My admiration for the species is based on a variety of factors – their beauty, the stunning dimorphism of the sexes which is so unusual among raptors, the challenge of photographing such a wary subject, their incredible agility in flight (especially while hunting) and at the top of my list would be their admirable tenacity at survival in abysmal conditions which I’ve witnessed first hand.
1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 400, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc
I’m especially delighted when I can get close to the male (the elusive “gray ghost”) in flight with a wing position and background I like. Throw in eye contact (they always seem to be looking down) and no blown whites in the rump patch and I’ve had a good day.