once in a lifetime photo opportunity
Last Saturday my friend Jan & I went to Stanley Park in Westfield Mass to shoot some scenics. We were sitting quietly by the lily pond hoping to catch a frog on a lily pad when I heard a strange low whistling sound off in the distance.
Out of curiosity I glanced over my shoulder and I could not believe what I was seeing. In a residential yard about 100ft away I saw a man kneeling down and what appeared to be a large red tailed hawk sitting on a small wooden perch about 20 ft from him. As I watched the hawk took flight and flew over, landing on the mans gloved arm.
I quickly switched to my 100-300auto focus zoom and moved a bit closer, being mindful to keep a fair distance so as not to disturb their activity.
After firing off 40 or 50 shots the man, with the hawk on his arm, approached to within about 5 feet of me and we talked for about a 1/2 hour while he explained the details of getting a license to participate in the sport of "Falconry".
He informed me that it takes a minimum of five years to obtain a license to participate in the sport, and there currently is only 7 people in the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts that hold the license.
I asked him how he acquired his bird and he says that while there are a limited number of raptors raised in captivity and available for sale to licensed handlers the law requires that they have to capture and tame their first bird from the wild.
This "Red Tailed Hawk" is his first bird, which he captured in the city of Springfield, Mass.
This bird is a male, approximately 2 years old and has reached full maturity.
All in all I shot about 150 pics and have since emailed him a nice photo array of him and the bird working. In turn, he has offered me the opportunity to come watch him work the bird any time I want to. In fact, he has even offered me an opportunity to go with him on a field hunt for rodents in the near future.
In the past I have seen documentary films of the art of Falconry but without a doubt, happening upon the activity in this manner has to be a once in a lifetime photo op.