Two hawks, one photo

      Last Friday afternoon I headed out to search for deer antler sheds behind my house. There had been multiple nice bucks- 8 points or more- hanging around all fall and winter, and I was hoping to find some of their sheds. I previously wrote about my attempt to bag an 8-pointer that frequented the field near my treestand, and then a remorseful article regretting my greed which left me deerless at the end of the season. But as I was walking, camera in hand, because who knows when you'll stumble upon a red-tailed hawk or other interesting find, I saw some turkey vultures flying low in the horse pasture adjacent to the field that I was in. One vulture in particular was getting exceptionally close, and I watched as it soared closer. But as I watched I saw to little specks move behind it. At first I thought that it was my eyes, but then I noticed that it was actually two hawks high above riding the thermals. They were so high that they appeared as mere spots (imagine about half the size in the first picture below, and that is about how small they looked). I zoomed as far as I could with my camera (30x), and the below picture was the result.

   I enlarged the photo to identify the birds, and almost immediately noticed that the bird in the lower left corner is a red-tailed hawk. I naturally assumed that the other bird would be a red-tailed hawk also, but I turned out to be quite wrong. The second bird is a male northern harrier. This is the first time I have seen a harrier so near my home. An enlarged version of the photo is posted below so that perhaps you, too, can make out the two species.

   I continued my walk hoping to stumble upon some other interesting find, but alas, I stumbled upon nothing else except a briar bush, which is not a pleasant experience, especially when you're in shorts, which, of course, I was. But I was still happy to have seen (barely) the hawks. It was very awe-inspring to see such large birds soaring so high in the air that you can hardly see them.

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