While fly fishing I noticed a gorgeous Red-tailed hawk actively patrolling the river, and at one point, it even swooped down and grabbed a great blue heron by the neck. The heron made a noise that could possibly awaken the dead and rapidly vacated the river. That scene was over before I even considered wading back to shore to grab my camera. Anyway, on the last afternoon of the trip the hawk suddenly appeared on a branch directly across river, happily eating a large bushy tailed gray squirrel.
This time I exchanged my fly rod for a camera, quickly popped on my longest lens, a 200mm Nikon Macro, and waded as far across river as possible. I snapped numerous photos and wished I had longer glass with me, and also wished the hawk would take flight. My friends seemed certain the hawk was so content with the squirrel that it wouldn't fly for hours, but I continued to stand mid-river, clicking away when all of a sudden, the next thing I saw through the lens was the hawk seemingly flying directly towards me. It swooped down and passed to my left, dove into the bushes behind me, grabbed a mouse or vole, stood there for a few photos, and flew back to the other side. I'm not sure if the hawk swallowed the mouse whole, or dropped in on its perch, because it immediately dove down to the ground on the opposite shore, and missed whatever it spotted.
Red-tailed hawk feasting on a large gray squirrel
Suddenly it took flight
Approached with amazing speed
Swooped past me less than 15 feet away
directly into the riverside vegetation
Red-tailed hawk catching prey, a mouse or vole
Heading back across the river with its prey
This encounter was so close my 200mm macro lens cut off the wing tips
I could hear and feel the wind beneath its wings
Beautiful fall foliage reflection upon the water
Back on the other side of the river
I waded further across river for a final photo
He spotted more prey!
Back in action
Zeroing in on its target
I think this photo almost looks fake, but it is real
He missed whatever was rustling in the fallen leaves
Perhaps we'll meet again
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