My first Swainson’s Hawk of the year is always a special event for me, no matter how mediocre the resulting photos might be.
They’re probably the longest migrant of any North American raptor, spending the winter months in Argentina after a migration as long as 14,000 miles that takes them several months. I look forward to their return every spring and yesterday on Antelope Island I saw my first one after several weeks of looking for them.
1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in
However the hawk, an intermediate morph, didn’t seem too happy to be here. These birds don’t tolerate cold very well, we’d had several inches of snow the night before and when these photos were taken it was 37° F with a cold north wind blowing at about 25 mph. I suspect this bird was wondering what the hell it was doing here.
1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in
Conditions were not good for photography. The light was variable but never good, the hawk was in a cluttered setting and I wasn’t close to the bird so these images have been cropped significantly. But it was my FOY Swainson’s so I had to share them anyway.
1/5000, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in
It was a fairly slow morning for birds on the island (the wind and cold didn’t help) so Western Meadowlarks were about the only other birds I photographed. I liked the detail on this enthusiastically singing bird but once again the setting was extremely cluttered so I cropped vertically and fairly tight on the bird to eliminate as many of the sage twigs as possible.
Meadowlarks are inveterate singers even in frigid conditions like these and this shot puts it all in perspective (the same bird can be seen at the bottom of the frame). I wish you could somehow “see” the wind and feel the cold.
This latest storm front caused quite a bit of damage around here – mostly to trees whose leaves are just coming out. The snow was wet and the winds were fierce. Hopefully that front brought lots of migrating birds with it.