Harriers and a Merlin

February 10, 2017 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography) (, , )

Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier

Harriers, also known as marsh hawks, are a very common sight here in southwestern Oklahoma in winter. Although the Cornell Lab of Ornithology map shows they occur year-round in the northwestern parts of our state, I did not see any last summer. They were replaced by the very numerous Mississippi kites.

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I’ve seen them all over the country, but rarely do I see an adult male. Mostly I see females and juveniles, which are brown. Males are a gorgeous gray, and from underneath exhibit a great deal of white, giving them the moniker “gray ghosts.”

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However, all have the distinctive white rump patch, and the owl-shaped face. They tend to patrol fields, flying low to see and hear rodents.

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Often they will hover over a promising spot, and if lucky, they will plunge and connect with their prey.

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There are plenty of these voles out there. You can hear them scurrying in the grass. And there were dozens of harriers, all of them brown.

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I use my Nikon D600 on the “continuous” focusing mode when I want to follow a flying bird. It has a better chance of giving me a fairly sharp image as long as it can stay focused on the bird and doesn’t get waylaid by a branch or tall grass.

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Since I only have an 80-400mm lens, I still have to crop tight to “fill the frame.” Not ideal, but still pretty decent.

Oh, and here’s the one merlin. It was sitting on a signpost, and I was able to capture it launching.

Merlin

Merlin

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

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1 Comment

  1. Jet Eliot said,

    Fantastic action shots. We see harriers often, such a lovely sight, and both genders. But I have never actually seen one grab a vole, so this was especially wonderful, Cindy. Great to see the merlin, too.

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