Harrier Drone

Harrier DroneBefore the sun even rises above the horizon, the Northern Harrier is already out on the hunt.  The grassy fields at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge Bayou Pierre Unit 30 minutes south of Shreveport are an excellent hunting ground for these raptors.  Juvenile Northern Harriers can often be found during the fall and winter months practicing their hunting skills.  For the nature photographer, these harriers offer surprisingly close photo opportunities.  Often more than one harrier will be working the fields, making multiple passes low to the ground searching for small mammals.
Harrier Drone was photographed In October of 2011.  I was heading toward the moist soil impoundments to try and photograph shorebirds and ducks.  The harrier was already out looking for an unsuspecting mouse.  The harriers also fly over the shallow moist soil impoundments and flush up small shorebirds and spook the ducks too.  I haven’t seen the harriers actually catch a bird yet, but I have seen them dive down in the fields and fly off with a small rodent.
The image is pretty plain, in the sense that there are only two colors.  The orange glow defines the time as early morning.  The bird silhouette is detailed enough to where the harrier’s talons and beak are quite evident.  The soft black background shows a tree line in the distance, giving the viewer a sense of direction.  Cropping the image to leave plenty of room for the bird to fly into says this bird is on the hunt.  Pity the poor mouse that most likely will never even see the harrier coming.
Harrier Drone is one of over two dozen images to be displayed at a photo exhibit starting Friday, June 1st 2012 at Magale Library, Centenary College, Shreveport, Louisiana.  The exhibit runs throughout the summer months during regular library hours.  Sponsored by the Friends of Red River National Wildlife Refuge, the exhibit is one way to promote the Refuge and encourage the public to visit the nearby Refuge Headquarters Unit and the recently opened Visitor Center.  The Friends group is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting the Refuge.
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