Red-tailed Hawk Hunting

During a warmer than seasonable Sunday in December, it was high time to get out for a local hike. Of course my go-to spot for this is along the Etobicoke Creek.

I often skip bringing the camera and just enjoy what I see along the way, but I had been reading some advanced photography tips related to camera auto-focus and I knew that the adage applies: you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so I brought the camera. I wanted to try different settings, and exercise my shutter finger and get more accustomed to shooting bursts, whether I succeeded or not.

After spotting a Red-tailed Hawk perched, I slowed things down and watched. It was a treat to see the hawk fly to the edges of the trees and perch, looking for small food nearby. I was thrilled to have my camera ready, auto-focus was set to AI Servo and as usual center-point focus was used. I was absolutely thrilled to track the hawk and watch my viewfinder in focus as the bird crossed our path.

Panning with the in-flight hawk a burst of frames were captured

After sitting in a tree about 15 feet above the ground, he eventually honed in on something and did his best but unfortunately he didn’t catch anything this round.

Following his attempt at catching prey for lunch, we were treated to a territorial spat between him and an aggressive American Kestrel, that managed to disturb the hawk enough to make him move along.

Reflecting now, it’s funny to realize that just 10 minutes prior to this, I was saying “there’s really nothing to shoot today”. Not more than 100 meters further, we were in an area I don’t go as frequently, and we got this awesome show of local urban wildlife.

Often we may debate whether or not to lug around camera gear, but I can say that today I was very pleased to have brought the right equipment as it afforded me these special shots and experience.

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Photography by Mathew Rossi | 2000 - 2023 All Rights Reserved

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