gliding and diving with the SX50 HS

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Don_Campbell
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gliding and diving with the SX50 HS
3 months ago

This is the time of year when the peregrines at the local cliffs are only seen occasionally but I still go out in good light to see if they're still around. Last week the big action was a Red Tailed Hawk hunting. The wind was quite strong as it often is on a NW coastal headland. It was coming from the north and had to turn up to get over the hill behind the cliff.

That wind with its updraft encouraged the hawk to tuck in and hover. I have photo after photo of it adjusting its feet in and out, its wings in all kinds of configurations and its head position to make tiny adjustments in direction in order to stay in one spot or to slowly glide left, right, forward or backward (that latter was a hoot for sure). Mostly the head was pointed downward looking for some morsel to go after.

This first is a more typical low wind soaring of a Red Tail Hawk. Wings pulled in a bit, but still obviously a big bird:

Now the wings are more tucked in and the feet coming out a little as aerilons or sky rudders for steering. Tail up as part of the hovering posture:

A little change in the wind and the feet come down some more and the tail goes up a bit more:

More severe shifting of the wing, broadening and lifting higher the tail, and "pawing" at the air with the feet for some adjustment in the wind:

And then I was astonished to capture a burst on a sudden high-speed dive (more precisely, in raptor speak a "stoop"). In several months of seeing Red Tailed Hawks out at the cliffs, this is the first day I saw this kind if bullet dive and I saw it several more times (but alas not as well focused).  The speed was impressive and quite hard to follow. Luck for certain, although lots of trips out to the cliffs gave me proximity for making luck happen.

The Red Tailed Hawk dive for prey is sometimes described as a slower feed first affair which I've also seen. This was another style entirely and rivals the peregrine in its aerodynamic design.

Thanks for looking.

Don

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
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