Capturing Action of a Hawk

It was exciting! There was a Harris hawk on top of the pole. I knew it would soon take flight. I did not really know what I would see, nor what I would capture in a photograph. I readied my camera. Where do I begin!?!

I refer to myself as a novice wildlife photographer. I get so excited about the action to eventually unfold that I sense great hesitancy within myself in how I should get my camera ready for the action. I don’t want to miss the action, but I also need to be sure the camera is set!

I begin with shutter speed. Bird flying, I select shutter priority. Dialed in, got it. I consider depth of field and set my aperture. Yes, the hawk is still on the pole. What ISO? Test shot of the hawk on the pole looks okay so I believe I am set.

The hawk has something in its talons!

Do I really have the best lens for a photo as this hawk flies off? Maybe not, but nothing can change in that department. I was only carrying my camera today because I never know what I will see and want to photograph. Often I have had regrets when I do not have my camera. (Best bird watching happens when you have no camera!)

The hawk flies and I immediately see the talons were holding a rabbit in place atop the pole. Wow! Thankfully I had continuous focus and burst on as I tried to get a decent photo or two. Not bad for this lens, but also not great … that’s the way it is sometimes. Any way I look at it though, it was an amazing sight for me to see! Photo or not, it is in my memory!

Day 30: Grateful

I have plenty to be grateful for every day! So with today’s daily prompt of “grateful” it seems the perfect time to revisit kindness in my world.

I am appreciative of and love my life partner who understands me and supports goals I set, even when others may question my sanity.

I am grateful for all my family members. Although I do not live near any of them, I hope they know I care and love them.

Friends, near and far, are wonderful. I am thankful for what each person adds to my life; whether an activity we share or moments listening to me.

In our current Covid-19 days, I am all the more grateful for all first-responders handling medical responsibilities, teachers creating virtual lessons for their students, parents and guardians caring about the welfare of their family members, essential workers at distribution centers, grocery stores and pharmacies, police and fire department personnel, and people working at food community banks, take-out restaurants, and all the support staff working to keep these people and places safe and clean.

I was riding my bicycle today thinking about all I am grateful for and here was a good example of social distancing between person on horse and another on a bicycle! Thankfully we can be outdoors and give each other the space we need to remain well. I am grateful for all people who are doing their part to flatten the curve! Thank you!

Grateful for social distancing!

Day 29: List (help for me!)

Everyday I have a list. Truth be told, I may even have a couple of lists.

I like a list, written the night before, of activities to be accomplished by me the next day and if I have any packages coming to the front door. This list is most important to me because I am not convinced I am awake enough to think of these things in the morning and remember them during the day. Plus, by the end of the day I truly enjoy marking off all the things I did do! Unfortunately, some items will go onto the next day’s list.

I also have lists for various activities: bicycling, tennis, pickleball, etc. The reason I do these lists is because I know I will forget my Garmin when I go bicycling, so it is on the list! Do I check these lists each time I am getting ready for an activity? No … and when I forget an item, it is annoying to me as I know I should have these lists memorized by now! On the other hand, I tell myself why do I need to memorize or even remember the items when I do have a list! Hmmm…

I have lists for traveling too. Hiking trip to remember the hiking poles and bug spray! Bicycling trip to remember Garmin and bug spray! Wine tasting and vineyard visits in any place other than Arizona, sunglasses and bug spray! The other item I need to remember is a raincoat or umbrella. I forget when leaving Arizona that other places actually have insects and weather! So my lists are helpful!

A list a day keeps me organized and feeling accomplished once all is done on the list!

Day 28: Focus

Outdoor activity is an important part of every day for me. A big reason I live in Arizona is to enjoy an outdoor activity or two each day. It may be tennis, pickleball, road bicycling, hiking, birding, mountain biking, wildlife photography, or in the evening dark sky some star gazing.

The activity that requires my utmost focus is mountain biking! I choose what times I ride my mountain bike because I know if I am not ready to watch exactly what I am doing it is very easy to be hugging a cactus, riding into a sandy spot or deep hole and lose control. Not my idea of a good time to have any of that happen! I am an advanced beginner bike rider and wish to ride for at least another 10 years. No part of me ever wishes to be in need of medical assistance, so I am the first one to walk my bike when I need to do so.

I like loops I can ride twice in a day. The first time around the loop I am especially cautious and focused because I am most often just waking up in an early morning hour and out on the trail before the air temperature climbs to high … heat is a concern in Arizona, April – August! The second time around the loop I realize I need to remain focused because this is when I can become too comfortable and careless and bad things can happen very fast!

This is not to say my eyes do not wander off to look at the magenta flowers on a cactus, the hare running across the trail, or the mileage on my Garmin. I do look … quickly … and know if I want to take time to really look at something, then it is time to stop my ride, grab a drink of water and look at the scenery! Then I hop back on the bike, focused, and riding the miles back to the car for the ride home to a well-deserved shower! No thorns on my body or in my bike tires… an excellent ride!

Photo taken in AZ winter as clock shows afternoon time!
Jumping cholla cacti are the worse! Watch for them on the trail; no fun changing a flat tire.

Day 27: Team

Habitat for Humanity projects necessitate team work! While I have participated in various projects in NYS and AZ, my most recent project was in Poland, yes the country of Poland! A group of us from central Arizona traveled to Gliwice, a town north of Krakow, Poland. For 5 days we worked on an old building needing renovation for future use as a center for young people with addictions.

Half of the volunteers chose plastering work. The others, myself included, chose to pull up the flooring in each room. We discovered linoleum on top of another layer of linoleum which was on top of some very old wooden boards. Under those boards we found chunks of wood holding the floor beams apart and dirt… all needing to be removed! This work REQUIRED a team of people to even make a dent in the overall project.

Crowbars, muscle, sweat, hammers, shovels, brooms, and more muscle and sweat from everyone at work! It was back-breaking work, but we looked after each other as we tried to rotate some of the jobs around and took time for water breaks, snacks, and a walk to an ice cream/bakery place in the local area. Lunch was provided each day with a wonderful opportunity to sit down and time to see the other team members and their plastering work. Amazing … another example of great team work!

This project will not be entirely finished for some time as there is plenty of work to be done, but it will get done with more teams coming in to help. Kudos to Habitat for Humanity – Poland for the work they are doing! Their team is the best. They made our stay enjoyable as we helped them with their project. It would be wonderful to return to Poland and see this project completed with the young people making use of the facility. Someday I might be able to make that happen!

Day 26: Hidden

I spent more than an hour in one spot bird watching. Why? Did I have nothing else to do with my day? No, I find to photograph birds one needs to be patient, plus I did have plenty of time.

I was watching a house wren fly in, pass me and then disappear. For the longest time I could not figure out where it was going? In the forest underbrush and upward to its canopy of leaves there were plenty of places for this wren to go and be lost to me.

I changed my position, waited for it to fly by me again, and began to narrow down the field of landing places for this bird. On one fly-by the bird had a blade of dried grass and it slowed the bird down as it tried to enter a hole in a tree knot. Finally I saw where the wren was building its nest! It was hidden yet also in plain view once one knew where to look!

The wren did plenty of work and also took time to rest between flights. As a result, all of my time observing and the bird’s work easily involved more than an hour. The location of the wren’s home is safe with me.

House wren takes a breather while working on a nest on the next tree.

Day 25: Magic

This is magic to me … use of editing tools on my photos.

I know these tools are not really magic; however, to use them and more clearly see a bird in a photo surely seems like magic to me! I was in a canyon looking for a particular bird and using a new camera lens. I waited an hour and finally saw a few birds in the area. One was right above me and not with the best light for photographing it, but it was a bird I hoped to see. I snapped a couple of shots and the bird was gone.

Not till I was home looking at my photos on my computer did I know if I captured the bird in a photo. I am new to the editing programs so I simply hoped for the best and tried some “magic” to the photo. No doubt better lighting at the time of the shoot would have helped tremendously!

While this is still really a rough photo, otherwise I would refer to it as a lousy photo, it does prove to me I saw the bird I had hoped to see. There is enough information in the photo for me to identify the bird and that was the magic at work for me!

I do remember the old days when I would wait days for a roll of film to be developed, often times with really lousy photos on the roll when I finally saw my work. Today, I love digital technology and the magic of the editing tools! Now to get outdoors again and take a photo with better light.

Red faced warbler

Day 24: Elixer

My elixir, or magical potion making me believe I will live forever, is red wine. Maybe not live forever, but at least till tomorrow! It was a wonderful birding and photography day today, so I want to be out there again tomorrow!

With a good corkscrew I am opening a delicious bottle of red wine and on my way to enjoying a glass of pinot noir wine. It just happens to be from Helluva Vineyards in Anderson Valley, California … helluva good wine, I would say! Thank you to Kokomo Winery for the corkscrew and Anderson Valley for the wine. Thank goodness they both ship to Arizona! (Not that I would not enjoy a beer instead, but the wines hit the spot today!)

Time for wine!
My favorite corkscrew.

Day 23: Note

Recently I started, what I call, a digital “virus journal”. I write what the day was like, what I am grateful for, my concerns, or whatever enters my mind. Each daily note must be ten lines or less.

I had journals while growing up. However, after writing for years I realized I had no interest reading about my past. I tossed the journals to the garbage believing anything worth remembering, I probably do remember! Trip journals are more important for me and to this day I do keep one per trip.

This virus journal is a quick way for me to be mindful and in the present moment, reflective upon the day, and to note anything that may be important a few months from now. No doubt, when the vaccination is available for Covid-19, I most likely will toss this digital journal too.

Time to sit and write today’s note.

Day 22: Tempo

My latest speed of activity, tempo, has been inconsistent. Brain and heart have worries and heaviness; my lack of tennis and pickleball playing keeps me wondering how many days I can wake up late in the morning and still bicycle ride or hike before it is very hot.

I was outside weeding … just like many other recent days … and I saw this critter scurrying around. It was definitely moving faster than me so I decided to take on the challenge of capturing it in a photo! It necessitated me getting a move on too! With some success I caught up with the lizard!

I picked up my tempo for the rest of the day!