Sentinels on duty


Do photographers’ represent danger? Not this one.

It’s a common sight. A hawk stands motionless on a post, piercing eyes scanning the territory like a sentinel on duty. Clearly there are dangers lurking on the prairies that we know not of. I am thankful for the protection.

As summer gives way to winter, sentinels perform a changing of the guard without pomp or ceremony. One day, snowy owls are on duty, peering with their big yellow eyes at the colder landscape.

Each sentinel has its duty that it performs quietly and selflessly. Some days I don’t even notice that they are there.

During a recent trip to northern California, I was surprised to find sentinel duty being performed by cormorants. I can only presume that a less fearsome guard means a less present danger.

Who is protecting you?


What dangers lie in California? Only the cormorant knows for sure.

Latest Comments

  1. hannele says:

    I mostly see pigeons on guard duty, so I presume it’s pretty safe here. (but sometimes we get white storks – I guess that’s when there is real trouble approaching)

    That snowy owl is incredibly stunning. Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing your observations of the world, once again.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Pigeons must mean it’s unbelievably safe! I’ve never seen a wild stork so that would be fun. I wonder what sort of impression they would leave.

      The snowy owl is one of my favourite creatures. I just never get tired of it.


  2. Cornel Ap. says:

    I like very much the photo of the hawk. I don’t see them so often and when that happens, they are always flying.
    To me, that snowy owl looks a bit scared.


  3. Dalo 2013 says:

    These sentinels are pretty regal birds…taking there jobs seriously and worthy of respect. Great captures.


  4. Jeff | Planet Bell says:

    When I’m visiting my family on the prairie, I never see sentinel hawks or owls like this. You must have some sort of magical power to always find these guys and nail the photos.

    Once on a walking safari in Africa, we were told we were safe because there were baboons all around and they have sentential in the trees. If lions, hyenas, leopards or cheetahs come by, they all climb. It is good to have some one watching your back.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      It’s too bad you don’t see the prairie sentinels – perhaps they have figured out I need more protection! I’ve never been to Africa but I’m happy to hear they have sentinels there as well. My theory is that they are everywhere in some form.


  5. melodylowes says:

    Love the foreground on that hawk shot. So typical of the poetry of prairie grasses. Will I sleep better knowing I am watched over? I’ll let you know…


  6. Steve Gingold says:

    Erect it and they will come. I guess a flat-topped post is a more comfortable perch. I don’t know…a round branch would seem more so. Maybe a better view of the surrounds. But that also makes you more visible. Beats me…but they do seem to like fence posts


  7. Lavinia Ross says:

    I have not seen our resident Great Horned Owl of late, and I am a bit worried about the old chap. The prolonged drought has sent many critters looking for food wherever they can find it. Pocket gophers seem to be managing, however, and I am sure they will be here at the End of the World when all else are gone, tunneling away.


  8. Robyn Graham Photography says:

    Great captures! So strong and stoic.


  9. BuntyMcC says:

    That hawk shot is gorgeous. What type is it?


  10. Mike Powell says:

    I love the nonchalant way that you began your post, Lyle, with the words, “It’s a common sight. A hawk stands motionless on a post, piercing eyes scanning the territory like a sentinel on duty.” Wait a minute. A common sight? Not many of us can characterize an unobstructed view of a motionless hawk as common and even fewer of us have seen a Snowy Owl in real life. I can’t help but notice that all three birds seem to be perched on man-made posts. Is this really a post on posts?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      It really is a post on posts – and the stories they tell if only they could speak. I would prefer an all natural setting but that is where they naturally stand so I go with it.

      It’s interesting that an unobstructed view of a hawk is quite a common scene on the prairies here but one that is often taken for granted. What can be a challenge is getting close enough to get a good image. The snowy owls are far more rare and far more difficult to spot since they blend in so well.

      Good observations.


  11. Honie Briggs says:

    I love hawks. We have a couple that have made a home in the cell phone tower visible from our yard. When the are on patrol, it is a sight to behold. Their dialog is pretty interesting too.


  12. Birder's Journey says:

    This is a wonderful image, beautifully composed. I love the golden colors and textures.


  13. David says:

    Nice captures. The cormorant is my favorite with your choice of composition and the way you got him to pose. I’ve never seen one in real life but I’m guessing they’re not particularly good at taking direction.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I didn’t have a good photo of a cormorant until this one so that makes it a bit more special. You’re right about the posing. After all my wild gestures and best soothing coaxing, I gave up and let it do what it wanted!

      I got this photo when we were coming back from whale watching and noticed the cormorant on the post and got off a few photos before my view was obstructed. Wait a minute, maybe the cormorant was getting me to pose.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Seenorway says:

    Hungry sentinels, I think. Nothing like hunger for motivation!


  15. Alison says:

    Do you watch “Game of Thrones,” Lyle? You are clearly north of the wall up there in Saskatchewan, and winter is coming. Be thankful for all the sentinel power you can get! 🙂
    Lovely shots!


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I actually don’t watch it.

      Yes winter is coming. Most people here dread it but I don’t – a nice day for me is sunny and calm, the temperature is of less consequence.

      And I’m quite thankful for all the sentinel power – for reasons I don’t fully understand.


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