Swainson’s Hawk, San Luis Valley

Swainson's Hawk

Swainson's HawkSwainson’s Hawk, San Luis Valley, Colorado. We stumbled across this beautiful creature and made a few images while it let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I was encroaching on it’s nesting territory. There were many hawks this day and any approach seemed to entice them from the nest, to abandon the chicks in order to distract us intruders. We moved on and left them to their familial duties.

Sandhill Cranes Heading North

sandhill cranes flying north
Sandhill Cranes heading north. For the last couple of weeks I’ve seen and heard the Sandhill cranes overhead on their northward migration. The cranes navigate using the Rio Grande, which passes about ten miles west of us. I may be wrong in assuming this, but I like to think that by keeping the river to the west and with the snow capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the east, also aids in the cranes navigation. The Sandhill Crane Festival in Monte Vista, was happening last weekend, about a two hour drive from home. We didn’t have to travel that far … we only had to stop, listen and look up. Thanks for looking. G

“It’s mine, I killed it and now I’m going to eat it!”

Merlin, Prairie or Richardson's Merlin, Falcon
Merlin. “It’s mine, I killed it and now I’m going to eat it!”  I made this image yesterday on my way home from my gallery in Arroyo Seco. I spotted the raptor on the fence post as I drove along. I pulled over, reversed about 100 feet and wound down my window. I said to myself, ‘that’s a male Merlin falcon, perhaps a juvenile’. I stopped about 20 feet away and while I was changing lenses I observed the Merlin tear at a dead bird’s chest … at least I’m pretty sure it was dead. I made about a dozen images, each, very much like this one. A few minutes later when a pickup came whipping by me, scaring the Merlin, the raptor took off clenching it’s prey. This evening I wrote to my friend Jean-Luc Catron, author of Raptors of New Mexico to confirm my ID of the bird. This is his reply … “What a beautiful photo!! You are right, it is a merlin, and because of the muted facial markings I can also say that it belongs to the subspecies richardsonii (prairie or Richardson’s merlin). It is a male because of the blue gray dorsal plumage”.   Thank you Jean-Luc.  Thank you for looking. G

House Finch

house finch in the ash tree
Cold snowy day here in San Cristobal. This House Finch joined four or five dozen Dark-eyed Juncos at the bird feeder. I think, at some point, it got overwhelmed by the frenzy over the bird seed I’d put out earlier. It retreated to the Ash tree close by, where this nice ‘bokeh’ (blurred background), isolated the bird and the branches. I made one image before it flew back to give the bird feeder another try … here it is.