…as well as a willingness to be late.
Recently, I was out for a Bird Walk at Antonelli Pond and Natural Bridges.
I walked along the north side of the lake, taking a few pictures, but nothing that excited me. Then I crossed the street into Natural Bridges State Park. I took many pictures of an Anna’s Hummingbird that was spending an inordinate amount of time preening on a branch. I kept hoping that I could capture it in flight, but it never took off. It is the mating season for many so it may have been preening to impress.
After taking over 200 photos of the Hummingbird, I glanced at my watch. I didn’t have much time left (Katherine and I had a small graduation party to attend), so with little reluctance, I left the Hummingbird to its ministrations and crossed the street back toward Antonelli Pond to search for Herons.
Just as I crossed the street, a Red-shouldered Hawk flew over. I quickly raised my camera and fired off shots as it landed in a Eucalyptus Tree back across the street in Natural Bridges. I took a few more and then noticed a second Red-shouldered Hawk perched in another tree near the first. Were they mates?
The first Hawk flew off and I took a few pictures of the second. Then I saw a Crow dive-bombing a pine tree not far from the Eucalyptus grove. I knew now where the first Red-shouldered had landed. I hurried back across the street.
I found the Red-shouldered perched in a pine next one of the trails. It was 12:25 P.M. and I had wanted to start for home at 12:30 P.M. Hoping to get a photo of the Hawk in flight, I trained my camera on him and waited. And waited. And waited. And lowered my heavy (over six pounds) camera and lens combo to rest my arms and shoulders.
For the next fourteen minutes, I alternated between focusing on the Hawk for as long as my arms could handle it (“You’re building muscles!” I kept telling myself) and lowering the camera for a brief rest. Now and again, the Hawk would appear to show some interest in something and I’d get excited but then he’d relax again.
I was worried about the time. I set a five minute timer on my watch. If he hadn’t flown by then, I’d give up. And just before the timer went off…
Does it look like that Hawk is flying straight toward me?
The Red-shouldered Hawk landed on the ground…twenty feet away from me! I was stunned. I knew I should be packing up my camera and heading home–I was going to be late–but nobody could expect me to leave now. (Right, Katherine?)
For the next two and a half minutes, the Red-shouldered nosed about (or, beaked about?) the bushes. He was totally aware of my presence, but didn’t seem to mind. I even squatted (slowly) to get a better angle and crossed the path (again, slowly) to keep him in sight, and he showed no concern.
Now I really had to leave (it’s 12:43 P.M.). I cautiously headed up the path toward the Hawk and he flew off the path into a nearby tree.
(Okay, yeah, this photo won’t win any awards! 😂 The Hawk was so close to me (or I was so slow) that I didn’t capture all of him as he flew in front of me. )
I put my camera in its case and hurried home.
It would be about eight hours before I was able to download the pictures from the memory card. They were worth the wait.