In marshes and meadows across America, if you are very lucky, you may have the opportunity to see a steel gray hawk with piercing yellow eyes floating and gliding silently above the land as it hunts. This magnificent bird of prey is a Northern Harrier. It’s eerie ability to fly silently and even hover in place, has earned it the nickname “The gray ghost”.
On my last morning in Florida I visited a marsh where folks told me this bird can be found, but not often, or easily, which is SO often the case with wildlife. I had pretty much concluded that would be my experience as well, after walking probably 5 miles or more with no sign of him. I was pretty tired and had started walking back to my car, when I ran into an older gentleman carrying a camera. He was intrigued by my big lens (I get that a lot 🙂 and wanted to ask me about it.
Suddenly he started shouting “Harrier!” and pointing out across the marsh. I saw the bird coming and started tracking him in the viewfinder. He flew past us and made a circle around the area, I panned the camera and photographed him the whole way. Then just as suddenly as he had appeared, he was gone.
My new friend began swearing like a drunken sailor as he was checking his pictures on the monitor of his camera. He said he got a half dozen images and none were in focus. I felt bad for him, I wouldn’t have even seen the Harrier if he had not bird-dogged him for me. I knew I had a bunch of tack sharp frames, but it seemed cruel to share them at that point, so I didn’t.
C’est la vie!