Close-up photo of Cooper's Hawk

     In 1984 I was invited to participate in a NATO Workshop at the University of St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland. My wife, Betty, went with me and after the meeting we rented a car and toured some of the historical sites in Scotland. On that trip we learned that on the Isle of Skye, if you can see the mainland, it is going to  rain. If you can't, it is already raining. A similar situation occurs in the Denver area of Colorado. During the months of March and April, if you can see the mountains, it is going to snow. If you can't it is already snowing. On April 13, 2018 we could not see the mountains.

      I stepped off the patio of our condo and took a photo to send to friends in Pensacola where snow is a rare event. When I looked in the opposite direction I saw a hawk perched on a limb directly over the sidewalk. I went inside to get a longer lens and when I returned a neighbor was walking her dog and moving in the direction of the hawk. I asked her if she would mind if I took a couple of shots of the hawk before she continued her walk and she did not object.

Olympus E-M1 Mark II camera
300mm f/4 IS Pro lens handheld
1/2500 sec at f/4.5, ISO 800

Note that the outer tail feathers are noticeably shorter than central ones.

Crop of previous image

     The hawk did not fly when the neighbor and her large dog walked under the tree limb. I put the shorter zoom lens back on the camera and slowly approached the hawk snapping shots at incrementally shorter and shorter distances until I was directly under the bird. 

Olympus E-M1 Mark II camera
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f4.0 PRO Lens
100mm, 1/2500 sec at f/4.5, ISO 800

Crop of previous image

          I retreated, attached the longer lens and waited for the bird to fly. Unfortunately, when the bird eventually left the perch, it flew in a direction that allowed me to only take "rump" shots.

David Sparks

I retired in 2005 after 40 years of research and teaching at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (24 years), the University of Pennsylvania (8 years) and the Baylor College of Medicine (8 years). Photography is my retirement hobby.

Nature photography, especially bird photography, combines a number of things that I really enjoy: bird-watching, being outdoors, photography, travel, messing about with computers, and learning new skills and concepts.  I now spend much of my time engaged in these activities.

David Sibley in the preface to The Sibley Guide to Birds wrote "Birds are beautiful, in spectacular as well as subtle ways; their colors, shapes, actions, and sounds are among the most aesthetically pleasing in nature."  My goal is to acquire images that capture the beauty and uniqueness of selected species as well as images that highlight the engaging behaviors the birds exhibit.