Monday, January 27, 2014

The Hunt of a Harrier

Northern Harriers, also know as "Marsh Hawks", are winter visitors to the Central Florida area. These harriers are prominent around the local wetlands and surrounding areas. I have encountered one or more on each of my recent visits. 


I am usually alerted to the harrier's presence by the sudden onset of panic that ensues among the waterfowl as the hunting harrier makes a low flyby over the area. I've observed harriers for many winters but last weekend marked a first...watching a harrier capture its prey. From my arrival, I had seen the harrier zig zagging over the shallow ponds of the wetlands.


As I was stopped alongside of a pond to checking some waders, I saw the harrier drop down into the water, shoving a coot below the surface of the water. The harrier flapped its wings during the initial struggle then sat still for quite some time. 



It was at least 5 minutes before the harrier attempted to relocate the coot to an area where it could consume it.


The harrier's first attempt to lift the coot was unsuccessful.


It landed on a near by bush to dry off and rest a bit. 





The harrier was finally able to move the coot into the reeds and began eating!


24 comments:

  1. You were certainly in the right place at the right time! I've seen harriers hunt the barrier beaches up north lots of times, but have never witnessed anything like this!!

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  2. That is just fantastic Tammy, what a great series, to be able to follow it thriugh like that, and get such awsome shots. I've watched them at Leighton Moss rspb, and been lucky enough to see the food pass, but not as good as your experiance.
    Have a good one Tammy take care, Gordon.

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  3. fascinating to see it drown its victim!

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  4. Great to witness nature at work and captured so superbly :-)

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  5. Great shots Tammy! I really like the ones of the hawk in the water.

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  6. Nice Tammy! I think nearly every bird but I especially love the owl face on this bird/hawk/owl:) And it's always fun to see who will fly out when the shadow nears:)

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  7. So hee .... what an action of this Buzzard. I really thought that he so coot from Hett water fish and would bring! This is also the first time that I see sitting in the water. A Buzzard
    Beautiful and active series Tammy :-)

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  8. Great shots and story Tammy. That's photography for you, right place at the right time.

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  9. Een geweldige serie heb je van de kiekendief gemaakt Tammy. prachtig.

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  10. Hola Tammy magnifico documento y ademas de verlo fotografiar a este Aguilucho en plena caza.Un fuerte abrazo

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  11. Amazing sight and a cool series of photos. I love to watch the Harrier in flight! Great shots!

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  12. Those wings are simply spectacular!

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  13. Great series Tammy.. Well-done.. Cheers!!!..

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  14. These pics are fantastic Tammy!
    How interesting to to see the way it hunts!
    You must have been thrilled to manage these lovely shots!
    Enjoy your WE!

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  15. Great Pictures Tammy. I have not been lucky enough to have seen one that close. Good post as usual.

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  16. Great looking bird of prey! I love Harriers.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  17. Harriers are such magnificent birds. You captured their beauty and actions perfectly, Tammy.
    Hugs :)

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  18. Congratulations on these great pics of a beautiful bird, liked the whole series.
    Well caught!

    Ottar

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  19. Impresionante tammy. me encantan. Saludos desde Extremadura

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  20. Hi Tammy,
    Great photos of this bird of prey, excellent work. .
    Greetings Irma

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  21. Estupendas fotos Tammy, precioso animal.
    Saludos!!

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  22. Wow, this is so awesome. I have seen harriers scatter waterfowl at the local refuge here and always thought it was odd- I had never seen a harrier catch a bird before, only rodents, and I thought their fear was misguided... Thank you for clearing this up with a fantastic series of photos!

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I greatly appreciate your comments!