After a great day of shooting or spotting a species I have never seen before, I enjoy some celebration music during the car ride home. Let's just say The Beatles “Hey Jude” was on full blast- multiple times. My day consisted of bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and red-tailed hawks. This was my second time spotting a peregrine falcon and I capture some really amazing photos.
For the past 3 months, I've been researching and photographing a pair of Snowy Owls down by the beach. This project is exactly what I want to be doing for the rest of my life (it will be released within the next two weeks on a very reputable website!) So, I wanted to take a break and head up North for some bald eagle action. I stumbled upon a very popular bald eagle area along the Hudson River in New York. I spotted 5 but couldn't pull off a decent shot, however, the setting was absolutely beautiful. They received about 3 inches of snow a few days prior, so it made the landscapes and hiking very enjoyable. I walked through a campground and it was awesome to see that it was half full with some hardcore campers.
Across the Hudson I noticed the Palisade's Cliffs. As a somewhat of an experienced birder, I remember reading online that Peregrine Falcons nest along cliffs. With a quick Google search where the Palisade's Cliff park was located and I was on my way.
As soon as I arrived and reach the edge of the cliff, a red-tailed hawk to my left was searching for food. Red-tailed hawks and I have a very complicated relationship. I spot tons of them daily, but can never manage to get a single photograph off. This red-tail to my left decided to take a break and land on a tree, so I started heading down the snowy trail towards him. I couldn't remember the distance from the hawk to my first lookout, I was nervous I might have passed him or scared him away. But, as soon as I stopped to pick up my binoculars, he was lined up straight a head of me- perfect photo opportunity. I fired away with my 4 shots per second camera and within seconds he was gone. Of course. What else is new? This red-tailed hawk decided to be awesome and fly to a tree 15 feet in front of me! I again fired away at him and guess what happened next? He didn't fly away, he flew 10 feet over my head! He was way too close for me to focus in on him, so I just enjoyed the moment. Mescalero Apache, a Native American tribe, tells us that red-tailed hawks are good luck if they cross your path.
Now that the red-tailed hawk blessed me with good luck, I knew I had to find these peregrine falcons. The viewpoint opening was very small, so I was extremely limited with where I can get a decent photograph from, if I saw a falcon. I stood still for 20 minutes and heard something screech. I had no idea what this was, I assumed it had to be them. The sound was actually coming from below me, on the cliff. Within another 20 minutes, a mature and juvenile flew right next to me and landed two branches. It was incredible. The worlds fastest flying creature decided to post up right next to me. They saw me right away, smiled, and continued on with their day. They were not concerned about my presence at all!
I didn't capture any in-flight photos of the falcons, but I did capture some pretty awesome close ups! Days like this make waking up at 5:30am on your day off really worth it. This has been on one exciting, action packed day!
February 7th, Teatown's Hudson River Eaglefest 2015 is going down! A huge opportunity to observe and learn about bald eagles. Croton-On-Hudson is a small village in Westchester County and a prime location for bald eagles. This town really loves their eagles. The snowy covered mountains that surround the park is also a great reason to take the trip up there! For more information: Eaglefest 2015