January: Hawk On!

January 1, 2019. I am driving Highway 2 to D’Arbonne State Park to lead a First Day Hike. As usual, my camera is on the passenger seat and I am keeping a sharp eye for photo opps along the way.

I should have a bumper sticker that reads “I brake for raptors on power lines.” Because I do. And I have gotten good at spotting hawks along Louisiana country roads.

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Seeing them on poles is more common, but this one was sitting on the powerline, which sagged significantly between the poles. I pulled to the side of the road about 80 yards beyond the bird and carefully got out of the car.

Of course, I made my first shot from right there, just to make sure I had one. Then I began moving slowly toward it, keeping my camera in front of my face. It seems to me that regardless of what I’m stalking, partially obscuring my big shining moon of a human face helps, and this hawk let me get closer than usual, maybe as close as 50 yards.

Suddenly, the hawk took off and flew straight toward me. Yes, it was still over my head, but it felt like it was going to fly into my face! I got one head-on shot, and then the encounter was over.

I love this photo. It is not the “best” photo I took in January; if you click on the bird’s face to enlarge it, you will see that the focus is not perfect. But it’s a memorable photographic moment and represents January in my annual #BestOf2019 #YearInReview.

Special treat: I see lots of red-tailed hawks, but this is a red-shouldered, the only one of the species I’ve been able to photograph.

#BestOf2019 #YearOfBirds #YearInReview

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