I spent today with gulls in a snowstorm, keeping them happy with stale popcorn and bread in hopes of luring an immature Mew Gull into photo range without luck. It was cold, windy, snowing, and dark. Lack of cooperation (by the bird & weather): uncool. The only saving grace was the custom lens & camera cover that my wife made for me, keeping me in business for a few hours without worry of soaking my rig with melting snow.
Last weekend, however, I ran into an uncommonly cooperative Harlan's Hawk (harlani subspecies of Red-tailed Hawk.) I knew I was in business when a jogger with a dog stopped directly underneath the perched bird and it didn't flush- Cool! Not only was it tolerant of such direct approach, but it made 4 forays into a field with tall grass & weeds, staying down long enough each time for me to re-position with the light behind me to get flight shots as it came back up to the cottonwoods over a bike path to peer some more into the field. Definitely the most cooperative Harlan's Hawk I've run into so far. A few of my hawk-pro friends agree that it is a 2nd-year bird (born two summers ago), having retained the outer 4 juvenal primaries (7-10) and a juvenal secondary #4. Those feathers, being older, are bleached a bit. Otherwise it's dark eye and plumage are typical of an adult intermediate-morph Harlan's Hawk.
River of Birds in the Sky, Part 2
5 weeks ago