Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday: Northern Harrier

These pictures are not of the best quality, but this was such an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime encounter that I decided to share them anyway.  While I saw Northern Harriers several times over the course of fall and winter (the only time they are present in Southern California), it was always at a distance or while they were in flight.  However, one day, as I was walking down a path, I was amazed to see a female Northern Harrier pounce on something in the reeds just in front of me. 

She graciously allowed me to snap 3 shots and then she was off with her prey and disappeared in the distance.  I had no time to maneuver for a clean shot so there are a few reeds in front of her, but the owl-like facial disk that is unique to this raptor is clearly visible.

Maybe if I can just sneak a teeny bit around I can get those reeds out of the shot...

Yep - she saw me.  Bye-bye!
And that was it.  The end of my surprise close encounter with this amazing raptor.  I did at least manage to get a shot of those cool facial markings, though.  I saw her a few times after this, but always in flight.  Never saw a male at this location, but did see one in April at location much farther inland - the males are smaller and much more gray in coloration.  In fact, their nickname is the "Gray Ghost".
Next fall...I'll definitely be looking out for the return of this stunning bird.


Frank Boxell said...

Fabulous encounter and super shots.

Margaret Adamson said...

How wonderful to see her so close and to get these shots.

eileeninmd said...

Awesome closeup shots of the Harrier. They are beautiful raptors! Enjoy your day!

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Fantastic looking predator.

Adam Jones said...

What a fantastic looking bird!