Surprised by a hawk – 100th post!

January 22, 2010

Before getting into this post, I wanted to note that this is my 100th entry for this site. It’s been a pleasure and I’m looking forward to many more adventures ahead. Now on with the post!

Every day is different, even if exploring the same area. Thursday I visited Holmes Run Park in Alexandria and had a few unexpected finds, both animal and of the park in general.

Instead of walking paths, I began by quietly scanning the perimeter of a wooded area. With the leaves still absent, now is a good time to peer deep into the woods. As I crept around a corner, I suddenly saw a burst of movement less than 10 feet away. A hawk quickly took to the skies and landed on a branch in the distance.

As I fired a few frames, it turned its head to peer in my direction. I quickly ruled out the Red-tailed Hawk option and began thinking about what it could be. Since it seemed relatively comfortable on its perch, I began to circle back to get in front of it. Seconds later I heard flapping and stopped. As I slowly turned my head, I saw the hawk sitting feet above my head on a nearby branch, staring down at me. It completely blew my mind that he came back. It seems as if it was a curious one.

As I tried to maneuver into a decent angle without disturbing it, I had trouble shooting against the overcast sky and backlit conditions. It just makes focusing ridiculously difficult. I did my best with the available opportunity and got off a few shots before it took off again over the run.

The quality is not something that I’m overly proud of, but the composition is decent for what it was. Maybe I’ll get another chance.

After consulting some resources, I’ve narrowed it down to a Red-shouldered Hawk or a Broad-winged Hawk. I don’t have enough clarity and lighting on the upper area of the wings to tell. If anyone else knows a good method to discern the difference, let me know!

After that encounter, I scanned some other regions and learned about several new paths off the paved main path. I much prefer the dirt paths to the main route. I was really pleased and will have to check back often in those areas.

In my initial scan of the woods, I found a number of sparrows and cardinals. In the stream there was also a large group of Canada Geese.

Just as with the last book, I’m finding a lot of birds, but few mammals. As the seasons change and everything springs to life, hopefully I can diversify the collection.

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One Response to “Surprised by a hawk – 100th post!”


  1. I’m sure you’ve encountered this resource before – http://www.allaboutbirds.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=1189

    I use this site frequently to identify the nesting hawks at Hawksbill Cabin…still not 100% confident in my id though…


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