Red-tailed Hawk, North Tongue River, Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming

Two photos today that mark one of our best moments with wildlife in the Bighorn Mountains. After a long day, with early morning photography, a nice hiking tour, and scouting for moose and other critters, we stopped at the small parking lot where scenic and not very busy highway 14A crosses the North Tongue River. This is prime moose territory, with lots of small willows along the river and still full of leaves that moose like to eat. While we looked out for moose and mule deer some other hikers pointed out this Red-tailed Hawk, perching on a fence post. First the bird was too far away, but suddenly the hawk flew closer to us and perched on another post. It was clear it was on a hunt for ground squirrels or mice and didn’t pay too much attention to our presence. After a few minutes it changed location again and was even closer as before. 

The camera went on the tripod quickly and I was shooting away in the killer light before the sun sets. Although the sun was very low already the light was still very intense. I knew I had a great opportunity in front of the lens and didn’t want to screw this up. Exposure compensation was between -0.7 and -1 EV in order to keep the details on its bright chest. The hawk was concentrated on its hunting efforts and posed nicely for about thirty minutes. Ones in a while he took off but always returned to another fence post. On its last take off the Red-tailed Hawk flew right at me, as he almost wanted to tell me, you had your chance dude, I hope you used it…!

Nikon D750, Sigma 150-600mm / f5-6.3 DG OS HSM S, Induro GIT 404XL tripod, Induro GHB2 gimbal head