Lee Sacrey Photography – Lee's Chatter

Mainly Photography but a little of everything at times

Go Falcons!

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Ok, all you Sir John Franklin High School students don’t get excited, lol. This is the last post of my recent Paulatuk trip (at least I think it is, it may be the Eagles last tour, lol). On previous visits I have photographed, Sic-Sics, a Bluenose-West Caribou, 5 different grizzly bears and a few other critters. Well this time I was able to capture something I don’t believe I have seen before. This time I captured a Dark Morph coloured Gyrfalcon! He/She is amazing, a killing machine as far as birds of prey go (as I was told by someone smarter than I). I am trying to convince some friends of mine that I am not a true bird watcher/photographer. For the most part I believe that, I don’t go out looking for some strange bird that was spotted around town. I have gone out with others while they look and if I am out and see birds I generally stop and try to get some images of them. I don’t often go for the sole purpose of seeing a bird that I have never seen. What I am finding though, is that when I see different birds I think of my friends who would want to be there or I wonder what bird it is and if they could tell me about it. That seems to get me out on occasion to capture these flyers. Sunday was one of those days. I was out taking some landscape images with my 35mm film camera and while driving back to the community of Paulatuk a bird flew past the truck just a few feet away. I didn’t get a good look but, it appear to be a hawk of some kind. I guessed it was a medium sized bird of prey and it was a medium grey colour. When I got back to the house I sent a message to my friend John McKay and asked if he could tell me what birds of prey there are in the Paulatuk area. He asked a few questions and gave me a small list of possibilities. I, and I guess John, was unsure as to what it could be. Not being able to give John more info so I could know what it was made me a little crazy. Later on Sunday I decided I would go back to the same area with hopes of seeing it again (like that normally works, lol). I didn’t have my 120-400mm lens with me but had my 70-200 and a 2x converter. I mounted those on my DSLR and off I went. I wasn’t expecting to see anything and was ready to switch back to my trusty landscape set up (I even brought my filters out with me). About 1/4 of the way to where I first saw this bird, I noticed something sitting on a large rock at the top of a hill. It was the bird, medium size, medium grey in colour – wow this birding stuff is easy, lol. Before I got close enough to get what I wanted it flew away. I watched its flight path and continued. This went on for about 20 minutes. The bird would land and fly before I would get a shot. After the 20 minutes I lost sight of this beautiful creature. I continued to drive around for another 30 minutes and saw nothing. I decided to head back. Coming from the opposite direction I could see the rock on the hill in the distance about 1.5 kilometres away. There was something on it, but it wasn’t my new friend. This thing was bigger and darker in colour. Not wanting it to just fly off, I slowed and just crept along. I noticed to my right, in the valley, a person driving along the Hornaday water shed on an ATV (the water is still in Paulatuk FYI). It looked so small in the vastness of the landscape. I am amazed that I get to visit these extraordinary locations. All of a sudden I noticed something else. Directly between me and the far off ATV was my medium grey bird friend, almost hidden from view in the texture and colour of the ground. I grabbed the camera and snapped away. Gotcha! With in a couple of seconds of me getting out to get a closer view it was gone. I looked back to the rock on the hill and that new bird friend was still there. I continued to move closer and this one isn’t as easily stirred. I drove about 100 ft and was now on the opposite side (in the truck) from where the dark coloured bird was. I quietly opened the door and exited. As I did this, the bird began to move and started to fly. I was sure I had lost my chance, but surprisingly it flew past me and perched about 80 ft away on the new rock. It was now directly in front of me. I got a couple of shots as quickly as I could and then moved forward slowly. I guess 80 ft was the limit as my new friend left very quickly and I couldn’t see it anywhere. I walked up to the rock to get a better look at the surrounding area, still nothing. My bird identifying shoot was over. I headed back and sent John McKay some of the images. I thought the second darker bird may have been a juvenile of whatever kind of bird it was. The colour reminded me of a young bald eagle, but the size seemed wrong. I had no clue what it was. John, on the other hand, is like the all-knowing Bird Whisperer. Within minutes I had the info I wanted. The medium grey bird is a Peregrine Falcon, the second, larger, darker bird is a Dark Morph coloured Gyrfalcon. The Gyrfalcon, by my estimate, was 15 – 17 inches tall (sorry I am Canadian so 38 – 43 cm) and the Peregrine about 12 inches or 30 cm. So there you have it, my most resent bird capture and as you can tell I am no birder, I was not a character in “The Big Year”. Here is a shot of the Gyrfalcon. Enjoy, thanks for visiting and as always, Happy Shooting.

Image 1 - May 13,2014

Written by leesacrey

May 13, 2014 at 8:06 PM

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