My little birding buddy Garrett & I hit the trail today in search of an Iceland Gull that's been bopping around Boulder County. My dad & I saw it for a few minutes yesterday, but it got real camera shy and departed as soon as I began training my digiscoping rig onto it. How do birds know when you're about to photograph them? It sat there calmly enough while we were just looking at it...
Anyway, Garrett will have to wait for another chance at his ICGU lifer since it didn't show during our time looking. Not all was lost, though, as we found this inky dark-morph calurus Red-tailed Hawk on our way home. It was at the exact same location where I saw it last winter holding court on a power line along 95th and Valmont east of Boulder. I'm positive it is the same bird, as dark-morph birds like this are really scarce. It would be just too much of a coincidence to have another at the same spot. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to see the bird again- I get pretty geeked about dark buteos (in case you haven't noticed.) My excitement grew when the bird decided to stay put as I pulled off on the shoulder of the road instead of bolting directly away. When it finally launched it flew parallel to the road north of me, keeping in good light and in profile. A clear blue sky would have been peachy, but I'm not complaining! I guess this unusual exhibition of cooperation is a bit of payback for all of the birds that fly straight away at their first inkling that I'm slowing down to look at them.
I got some shots I really liked of the bird last winter, but this time the light was a lot better for the perched shots, and I got a series of flight shots showing the deep red upper tail surface (aka the deck.) Even really dark Harlan's Red-tailed Hawks wouldn't have a complete red deck like this. Although they can have some red in their tails, if present it is usually near the base and the rest of the deck is banded grayish white. A Harlan's would also have at least a few white streaks on its breast.
Tundra Swan Song
1 week ago