I thot there were rules about these situations. They were just supposed to work … like gravity or hawks flying away.
I find a hawk and immediately run sophisticated mathematical probabilities in my head to determine how close I can get without scaring it off. By that time, I’m coasting with the engine off and my truck window open. I take a few shots – or not. Sometimes I get out of the truck to get a little closer.
In every case the hawk has flown off at some point in the process. Sometimes it happens before I even start slowing down and occasionally after I’ve waited a long time and looked away for a second (oh they know!). Occasionally I get a photo worth keeping though I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with the dubious math.
Now I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but when something happens 100 per cent of the time, for an insane number of repetitions, it seems like a rule. It’s predictable. Right?
One day I found myself standing on a lonely dirt road. I was a little surprised when a hawk left a high branch, circled above my head and returned to the tree. There was no nest or any reason I could see for it to hang around. I was so excited to hear that scream and get multiple photo opportunities that I didn’t notice the changing flight pattern.
The adrenaline starts pumping whenever I get a hawk in my lens. The pump was in high gear when I saw the hawk flying in my direction. What an opportunity! When the hawk’s eyes kept getting larger and larger in my lens, it suddenly dawned on me that the rule wasn’t working. I was getting dive bombed!
Now a hawk can look a little vicious just flying around. When magnified many times through the lens looking head on, it’s spectacularly impressive – we’re talking about a wingspan of nearly five feet. The hair on my neck might have risen a little.
Tracking a predator through my lens makes it quite difficult to judge distances. The hawk was veering off only about 15 feet away at high speed. It suddenly occurred to me that there was no time to duck a close encounter. I had a choice – either stay and take my chances or retreat to the safety of my truck.
I quickly decided to stay after determining that at least there was a big lens between me and the hawk (would a talon scratch on the lens be a badge of honour?).
The screaming hawk flew straight at me again – a chilling scene fit for the movies. I winced, fired, then did it again. Eventually the gathering darkness pulled the curtain on our little drama. I retreated to the truck, carefully walking backwards – a cautiousness that had me smiling and the hawk smirking.
What an experience!
Upon reflection, the choices I made turned out quite different than the possibilities I imagined. I thot I was choosing between safety and incredible photos – I wasn’t. It was far too dark so none of the fearsome photos turned out and the hawk never came any closer.
I do know that getting the shot was important to me and I discovered that even strict adherence to a pattern doesn’t make a rule. Here’s hoping I find another rogue hawk in better light.
Now I’m wondering what other rules or choices will surprise me.
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