You couldn't have asked for better weather for the Spring Raptor Release yesterday. It was gorgeous, although the one downside was that I was down wind from an apple orchard and all the binocular demos kept getting dusted with pollen. It was encouraging to see parents getting monoculars and kid sized binoculars for their children.
TRC released four birds yesterday, 1 Cooper's hawk, 2 red-tails and one hefty eagle. I worked my way through the crowd to try and get different shots of the birds taking off.
Above is a little boy who was sitting on his father's shoulders watching one of the red-tails take off after recovering from a wing injury. It was fun to watch the difference in the birds. The Cooper's hawk took off like a shot in one direction. It didn't try to catch a thermal, it just shot out of there above the tree line. The two red-tails looked for thermals and tried to use those to circle up high in the sky.
After watching which was the birds took off, I decided to find a spot where I thought the eagle might fly low. It was down off to the side of the stage, facing the crowd. There were a few other TRC volunteers there too. As they were making all the speeches about the bird's recovery, Lori, one of TRC's vets came by and told everyone to sit down. This was a big bird and would more than likely need a few seconds to get serious lift.
The eagle was thrown into the air. For second it looked like it might land on one of the speakers. Although, the hoard of people around it, made the eagle change her mind. Then she turned and flew towards the area I was sitting in.
And then I got this shot! I can't believe it, I look like a professional photographer and all I used my little Nikon Coopix 7900. Really, the bird was quite low and I was quite lucky. Boy, I was grateful that Lori had warned all of us to sit on the ground--or that bird would have run into one of us for sure. From there the bird flew right over our heads and into the wild blue yonder. I rolled over backwards as she flew over us and revelled in seeing her talons zoom past a few feet above my head.
And on a weird note, I have a mention in the New York Times. Non Birding Bill noticed in the website stats that we were getting some traffic from there. The link wasn't open to non subscribers until today. The writer was at the Ivory-bill Celebration. I remember Bobby Harrison telling me that he was going out with someone from the New York Times, and the writer apparently came to my beginning birding workshop. It's a nice mention and will make my mother proud. I have to say, it's interesting to read Bobby's comments, which reminds me that I haven't heard from him in weeks. Hmm, has he seen and photographed something and has been taken into the woodpecker mafia custody?
I'm also kind of curious about my status with Cornell...the no talking ban was supposed to be lifted in either April or when Cornell gave me the official go ahead...I haven't heard. Can I start talking about scaling and cavities and if I did or did not see the bird? I don't know. Although, I suppose if given enough scotch, one could get me to sing like a...an ivory-bill?