Category Archives: Raptor

Red-shouldered Hawk Portrait

I recently had the opportunity to photograph a Red-shouldered Hawk up close. He was on a tree branch next to the main path around my favorite pond and there were no sticks in front of his face! Ted and I were walking together and didn’t see the Hawk until we were quite close.

Red-shouldered HawkRed-shouldered Hawk – click image for larger view

The Hawk was unconcerned about our presence and after taking a few shots I continued on my way, turned back and got a profile head shot. It’s not much of a photograph with no background, but I thought it was interesting to see the feather and head detail.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk – click image for larger view

1/31/2018

Red-shouldered Hawk Lunching, Part 2

This is the tree the Red-shouldered Hawk first chose when he first left the open area with his frog lunch. He was much more protected than on the ground but I could tell he was still uneasy as at least two other Hawks were calling nearby.

Red-shouldered Hawk With Frog
Red-shouldered Hawk, frog parts can be seen hanging below the limb

He took to the air again and I thought I had seen the last of him. I turned the other way back towards the end of the pond to watch the herons and heard a kerfuffle of wings and squawking off to my right.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk

I’m not quite sure what happened next as my view was obstructed, but soon the Hawk with the frog changed direction again. You can see a third Hawk in the tree in the background between the tail and wing of Hawk One below.

Red-shouldered Hawk Flying With Frog
Red-shouldered Hawk Flying With Frog – click image for larger view

He went on his way without being followed and presumably finished the frog in peace.

Red-shouldered Hawk Lunching, Part 1

I had been watching this Red-shouldered Hawk as he watched a low marshy area from a nearby branch. When he spotted lunch it was just a matter of seconds from branch to capture.

Red-shouldered Hawk Eating Frog
Red-shouldered Hawk Eating Frog

I was fortunate that he landed in a sunny spot several feet below where I stood giving me a good view.

Red-shouldered Hawk Eating Frog
Red-shouldered Hawk Eating Frog

He held his prey with both feet. When I developed the images I could see that lunch was a frog.

Red-shouldered Hawk Eating Frog
Red-shouldered Hawk Eating Frog

He ate little bits at a time, tearing pieces off with his beak. He changed directions several times with little hops. I could hear several other Red-shouldered Hawks not too far off and there was a small flock of Ibis about 10 feet away.

Red-shouldered Hawk Eating Frog
Red-shouldered Hawk Eating Frog

I doubt the Ibis would challenge a Hawk for a meal, but I’m sure other raptors would. After eating part of the frog the hawk re-arranged himself and his grip.

Red-shouldered Hawk Eating Frog
Red-shouldered Hawk Eating Frog

A minute later he flew up into a nearby more protected tree, then flew down the pond to a higher vantage point.

Click on any image for larger view.

Red-shouldered Hawk Looking Around

Surveying his options this Red-shouldered Hawk deliberately checked in every direction.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk

He was pretty content to sit right there, watching and listening.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk

I walked down the path and took a shot from a different vantage point; his head and one foot had moved. His feet seem kind of delicate for a raptor.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk

Click on any image for larger view. 

01/16/2018

Courting Red-shouldered Hawks

I heard them long before I saw them while I was walking around one of the ponds near the swamp. They have a plaintive whistle that they tend to repeat over and over, and over. I finally spotted them in separate trees about 150 feet (45 meters) apart, casually watching each other. The path I was on went between them.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk

A pair in this territory raised three chicks last season. I never saw the nest but after the chicks fledged I watched them on training runs through the trees several times.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk

My path eventually took me closer to the hawk on my left and a slightly different angle.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk calling

These are more shots from a grey day in late December. It snowed here all day today basically leaving the greater Charleston area paralyzed so I’m revisiting some skipped images.

Osprey Catch Of The Day, Part 2

Still wet after his dive to  catch this fish the Osprey shook off then proceeded to consume his meal at a steady pace.

Osprey Eating Fish
Osprey Eating Fish

He started at the head and worked meticulously down the fish. I didn’t see a single piece fall although my attention did waver as this process took about 15 minutes.

Osprey Eating Fish
Osprey Eating Fish – click photo for closer view of his talons

The Osprey’s attention was diverted a couple of times when a Red Shouldered Hawk was calling on the other side of the pond. The Hawk never came close and the Osprey went back to eating.

Osprey Eating Fish
Osprey Looking Around Holding Fish

A foot bridge crosses the pond and I was able to get a different angle out on the bridge.

Osprey Eating Fish
Osprey Eating Fish

I didn’t see him leave and a few minutes later I heard his distinctive call out over a nearby marsh.

Click on any photo for a larger view.

Did You See A Hawk?

I heard several Hawks calling around Magnolia Cemetery but didn’t see any. Sometimes they perch on head stones or in the trees around the pond. Oh well, nothing wrong with getting photos of an Ibis displaying his tree landing talents. I’m guessing he didn’t see the Hawk, either, as he executed a perfect touch down.

Ibis Landing Next to Hawk
Ibis Landing Next to Hawk

He blended right in so I lightened him a little. You can find him in the photo above by following the Ibis’s beak in a straight line left. Below, the Ibis has passed the Hawk.

Ibis Landing Next to Hawk
Ibis Landing Next to Hawk

You can see from the other photos that the Hawk moved only his head, neither intimidated by the Ibis nor thinking he’d make a good meal.

Ibis Landing Next to Hawk
Ibis Landing Next to Hawk

I did spot the Hawk after a few minutes and got a now deleted photo of one wing disappearing over a Magnolia tree.

Osprey Catch Of The Day, Part 1

I was idly watching some mallards swim across the big pond at Magnolia Cemetery when I heard the splash. By the time I had him sighted he was out of the water.

Osprey With Fish
Osprey With Fish

Osprey often go completely under when they dive. I’m not sure this pond is deep enough for that but he still had to work very hard to get airborne with his catch.

Osprey With Fish
Osprey With Fish

Finally up in the air, the Osprey hung on to the fish with both feet.

Osprey With Fish
Osprey Flying With Fish

A branch hanging over the water provided a perfect lunch spot with a view.

Osprey With Fish
Osprey with fish ready to eat

Click on any photo for a larger view.

 

Owl in the Forest

Old-growth swamp forest, to be more precise, and a great home for Barred Owls. Some of the trees here are 1000 plus years old and the water circulating around them provides a perpetual feast for owls.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

There are currently two pair of Barred Owls frequenting the boardwalk area maintained by Audubon South Carolina.  We heard them calling to each other in the distance throughout our visit and then spotted this one napping.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

Dappled lighting through the leaves and the stillness of the owl makes me wonder if we walked past his mate without realizing it.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

Beidler Forest sits within the Four Holes Swamp, a 45,000-acre matrix of black water sloughs and lakes, shallow bottomland hardwoods, and deep bald cypress and tupelo gum flats. Four Holes Swamp is also a major tributary of the Edisto River, part of the Charleston area’s famous ACE basin. Over 17,000 of the swamp’s acres are owned by the National Audubon Society and make up what is known as the Francis Beidler Forest.

Audubon Center & Sanctuary at the Francis Beidler Forest, South Carolina, 9/17/2017.