Friday, November 6, 2009

HAWK SURPRISE

A few minutes ago I was getting ready to head out to the bank and grocery store. I figured I'd better give Moon-the-Dog a bit of time in the yard before she hopped in the pickup's cab. We exited out the back door. Moon went her way, I mine…which was around the cottage to take a look at the river. As usual I had my camera in hand.
Imagine my surprise—more like shock!—when a Cooper's hawk suddenly dashed through the trees and landed on the ground about a dozen feet from where I stood. I'd been ambling along toward the riverbank when the hawk flew down. There was no small bird or squirrel on the ground anywhere in the immediate vicinity of the hawk's landing zone; the hawk hadn't been targeting a victim or in hot pursuit. I wasn't dressed in head-to-toe camouflage.
I'm slightly smaller than your average sasquatch, but only slightly. Hawks have excellent eyesight and aren't noted for their inattention or being dullards. Therefore, a nature scribbler standing in his front yard does not expect a Cooper's hawk to plop itself practically at his feet…nor, I suspect, does a noble and savvy hawk expect to subject itself to such an embarrassing and precarious oversight.
I gaped at the hawk. The hawk gaped at me. I raised the camera, focused, snapped a photo. DSLR cameras make a lot of noise. The hawk still gaped at me. I took another photo. The hawk looked left. Photo three. Hawk looking right. And so it went for about another dozen shots—all more or less recording variations of similar poses.
Then Moon-the-Dog came around the corner. Moon gaped at the hawk. The hawk gaped at Moon…OHMYGODADOG! The terrified hawk almost turned inside-out taking off and flapping away. Moon gaped at me. I caused that?
Expect the unexpected. And carry a camera.

38 comments:

madcobug said...

Funny story and great shots you got of it. Helen

giggles said...

Another wowowowowowowow!!!!

Photo hawk hound.... And a friendly one at that! Bet it's the same one as before??

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

OHMYGODADOG!

I believe I can see that written in the hawk's expression in that last photo!!

Great photos. I have had similar experiences and I wondered who would blink first.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

Great photos of the hawk!! WOW - soclose!! And great story of the find and how and why the hawk left abruptly. Good ole' Moon! :-)

and Grizz? Would loved your thoughts on my last post. thanks.

Love to you
Gail
peace.....

Jenn Jilks said...

Griz, you are so delightful!
What a great photo-story! And quick reactions!!!!

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

I think that hawk has a crush on you! Why else would she land at your feet and allow you to snap away at her?

Great shots - and I'm happy you had such a wonderful, unexpected surprise.

Robin said...

God Lord! The wonderful things that happen to you.... and you're always prepared...

By the way, some people think that the hawk is a messenger, but you probably know that.

TheChicGeek said...

Hello Scribe :)
I like the first picture. He looks like he wants to meet you. He says, "It's about time I get a closer look at this Dude in my yard!"

Maybe he thinks you have Hollywood connections since you've always got the camera in hand and he's hoping to be discovered :)))

At any rate, he was a sweet surprise to your day, wasn't he?

I wish you a Happy and Relaxing Weekend by the River :)
Hugs and Blessings to You, Scribe!
Kelly

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Helen…

Right place, right moment, lucky to have the camera…even luckier to manage to sort of focus the shots.

Thank you, though.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

A camera-hoggin' Cooper's hawk? You are probably right. I can't imagine there are two semi-senile Cooper's hawks around. Actually, probably young and dumb. I was young and dumb once…but I've since changed half that equation.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lynne…

That is sort of an obvious hawk version of a "duh moment," isn't it? :-)

I've had others hawks of all sorts land or fly close to me over the years, but what got me on this one is I have idea why it did so—there wasn't anything else around but me. Surely the Cooper's wasn't THAT ambitious.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Moon the hawk dog. Actually, she just bumbled into the situation, as we all did. I think total surprise was had by everyone.

I'll visit and read tomorrow, okay?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

Well, there was a moment there when I just gawked at the hawk gawking at me. And I don't know why it didn't spook when I began shooting. Just one of those lucky situations.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

Now that you mention it, I believe I have seen that exact same expression on the faces of old girlfriends…stunned realization of an embarrassing blunder.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Robin…

Well, I'm going to allow you to keep right on believing that I'm always prepared. Absolutely.

Nope. I'm not going to tell you about the hundred so easy, anyone-could-shoot-'em shots I don't get every month—because guess who left his camera on the desk or the couch or had his wide angle on when he needed his telephoto zoom…or was just sitting there with his head apparently up his—well, anyway—when whatever it was flew, slithered, crept, swam, or otherwise did something incredible and he, old Always Prepared himself, wasn't looking.

Oh, no. You have pegged me right, I'm always, a-l-w-a-y-s prepared. You betcha!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly, aka ChicGeek…

I actually have this shapely bird under contract. Even as we speak—uh, correspond—I'm working as her agent on a new reality series, "Desperate Hawkwives." Think it will fly?

Rowan said...

A very special experience - and I loved your description of the hawk's reaction when it spotted Moon:):)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

I don't know which of the three of us was the most surprised…but it's certainly as close as I've been to a wild Cooper's hawk for what was easily a half-minute.

Jayne said...

What a wonderful gift! See, he knew you would want to blog that he landed in your yard only feet away from you, and so he granted you some time so you could get such great shots...lol!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

It was an amazing few moments—a hawk that close, apparently fully alert but willing to sit and allow me to raise the camera to my eye, focus, and make 15-20 exposures. I just can't explain it logically. Wild hawks don't behave that way…except this one did.

The Weaver of Grass said...

That last line is a good philosophy for life Scribe. Hawks and you seem to have an affinity - last week Harris, this week Cooper - we don't have either here, but I really envy you that close encounter.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

I expect I'm seeing the same hawk most, if not all, the time. And because for whatever reason—youth, nature, I.Q.—it simply isn't so afraid. In fact, when I went out to feed "my" ducks this morning, soon after daylight, a Cooper's hawk—almost certainly the same Cooper's hawk as yesterday—flew in and landed in the box elder by the front door, this time maybe 25 feet away. (And no, this time I DIDN'T have my camera handy.) Moon was outside wandering around in plain sight, though at a distance. The ducks—the two white pekins and 6-8 mallards, too big for hawk prey—were gobbling their corn and quacking loudly, at the water's edge perhaps 15 feet away. I began speaking toward the hawk, just silly stuff like "What're you doing here?" "Don't you know hawks are supposed to be easily spooked?" etc. None of which seemed to matter. The hawk stared at me, I at it. Then Moon came closer and the hawk flew to another tree perhaps 50 feet away. At that point I called Moon in, closed the front door, and sat down to my breakfast at the table.

I need to correct, or possibly apologize for, something…that is your mention that in one of my recent posts about hawks around the cottage, I identified one as being a Harris's hawk. I hope I didn't say such a thing—but if did, in a post or comment somewhere, I sure didn't mean to.

I did take a photo of a redtailed hawk last week, which I didn't post yet but might have mentioned, though I don't recall doing.

Anyway, even if I inadvertently say so (my aging, stressed brain being entirely capable of such things) know this, we don't have Harris's hawks hereabouts—they're a species common to the SW U.S. A gal I knew years ago, who was involved in studying raptors, owned a Harris's hawk—which was an absolutely stunning bird. But that's the only one I've seen outside of a zoo or some sort of exhibit. Again, I don't think I mentioned that anywhere, in a comment or post, either—at least not recently.

All my recent hawk posts have been re. Cooper's. My pickled brain notwithstanding.

giggles said...

I beg to differ.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

You do not have to beg…now what are we differing about?

TheChicGeek said...

Most definitely, Scribe...LOL
Smiling and laughing....Thank you :)
Have a Beautiful Day by the River!
Hugs :))))
Kelly

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly, aka ChickGeek…

Oops! I posted your comment and then forgot to reply. It's that curvaceous Cooper's hawk messin' with my mind.

I really hope things are going okay…

KGMom said...

Wonderful photos and story.
Most interesting that you didn't scare the hawk, but the dog did.
We have a sharp-shinned that comes around our bird feeders and all the birds scram post haste.
And I think I have seen a peregrine once or twice--there is a peregrine's nest in the city nearby.
I find raptors marvelously fascinating--in a cold blooded sort of way.

Deb said...

What an amazing encounter! And even more amazing that you were able to capture it in pictures!

giggles said...

that you've only changed half of the equation taht you mentioned in your reply....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

Almost certainly this is a young Cooper's. I saw it twice (or a Cooper's, anyway) yesterday, and once already this morning. It is just not much afraid of me, which has to mean it is the same bird. It is, of course, working the feeder areas—but doesn't mind doing so with me puttering around in the yard.

If this semi-tameness continues, I ought to be able to get so really great photos.

What's interesting to me is that the hawk spends a lot of time on the ground—it lands, hops around, then sometimes flies up onto a low low limb and looks around some more before flying off. I have no idea what that means, or whether that is typical Cooper's behavior. Though most of the Cooper's hawks I've watched previously would only land and sit on the ground for a few moments unless they had something cornered.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Deb…

Amazing to me, too—and pure luck, not only that the hawk landed so close and that I happened to have the camera, but that it didn't spook before I got the camera up and made several shots. And that part was lucky, too, because every one of the first half-dozen I made, before I settled my nerves, were slightly to not-so-slightly blurred. In other words, our close encounter of the Cooper's kind shook me up!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Goggles…

Well, I would like to think that while I may not be a young bear, I'm now at least a wiser bear…

Grace said...

Lucky you! I've never seen a Cooper Hawk. I like it's coloring. This reminds me of the time I stormed out the front door and somehow didn't manage to scare off a mother and baby deer; instead I was treated to a show of a frolicking baby deer.

Rita said...

Ok Grizzled They say hawks only come to us when they carry a spiritual message, so have you figured out yet what that message is for you???

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Grace…

Sometimes the most wonderful moments occur amid scenarios where they're least likely—blessings unexpected.

The coloring on these Cooper's hawks is really lovely—more bluish than you think…or at least than I thought until I began seeing them close-up.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rita…

I'd never heard that…but, no, to answer your question, if there's a message here I'm so far unaware. I don't discount such things, however, and Lord knows I can always use a message.

Kelly said...

...hahaha...you made me laugh. I love that feeling of excitement and adrenalin when Mother Nature drops a gift at your feet! This morning when I opened my kitchen window I almost fell over because a Sharp-shinned Hawk was staring back at me. No larger than a crow, I'd never seen one so close. He was no doubt looking for a McTitmouse or some other fast food morning snack!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly…

I've already had another spectacular Cooper's visit this morning, and got a few photos which I'll share on an upcoming post. This one wasn't at my feet, though—but it's a neat little story.

I don't think I've yet had a sharp-shinned here—though I suppose I could mistake a big female for a male Cooper's on a quick pass-through. I'm not all that great a birder. I usually go by the rounded tail to mark a Cooper's…and usually see, or think I see, that on the hawks here.

I have had a couple of red-tailed land in the yard, though they're more likely to sit high in the sycamore across from the cottage.

The little unexpected nature dramas and interludes are what makes any time outdoors so much fun. And I think hawks and owls and birds of prey in general are always exciting, even when glimpsed for only a moment.