In Pursuit of the Harrier Hawk.

Photo: Blake Shaw/VIREO

Above photo property of Blake Shaw/VIREO.

On numerous occasions I had seen a Harrier (marsh hawk) cruising in the distance over one of the many marshes on the grounds of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. The past few times I made note of the time of day and location. I decided there was enough of a pattern to it’s movements that I might be able to get close enough for a good photo.

As it turns out, they are fairly elusive. Guenter Weber warned me, “You must see it first to get a capture. If it sees YOU first, it is gone.”

Well, that just made me want it all the more!

I had decided on a location that would put me close to it’s route of the previous morning. I had a good view of the marsh, and the sun was behind me. Perfect! I camo’ed up and settled into my chair to wait.

Golden Hour Great Egret

The weather forecast was for rain in the afternoon, but I packed along my rain gear just in case. Weather is unpredictable in Coastal Carolina, and I have learned not to trust the forecasts. As it was, the sun peaked through the clouds briefly as I waited, giving me a few shots in the golden hour.

I think the gator sees me. Will the hawk?

Then, something in the air to my right.

The good news is, it showed. And, within three minutes of the exact time I had seen it the day before.

The bad news: It showed on the other side of the marsh, too far away for a good image. AND, exactly where I had been the day before!

This is what a Harrier Hawk looks like from over a 1/4 mile away.

I can hear Guenter chuckling now. “Ha, I told you!” 🙂

But, for the first attempt I will call it a qualified success. I did not get my shot, but progress was made. I know I have the right time of day, and now I just need to refine my location.

Did the hawk see me and alter it’s route? Maybe, I have no way to know for sure. But, I will conceal myself better on the next try. Maybe I will bring my pop-up blind.

On the way out, I took a profile shot of Mr. Gator for his social media page.

Published by Larry Maras

Nature Photographer in Summerville, SC.

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