Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

July 22, 2012

Cooper’s Hawk, Again

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

To fight “cabin fever” here in way too hot Phoenix I’ve been visiting Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior, AZ, about 60 miles east of where I live. My two recent trips have been chases (“twitches” as British birders call them)  after reported rarities discovered by others: the first on July 10 for a Thick-billed Kingbird well north of its usual range; and July 20 for Big-horned Sheep (last seen at the arboretum in 2002). For the record I saw neither the kingbird (a one day wonder) nor the sheep (refound by friends as I was about to depart and gone by the time I got back to their location).

My consolation prize on the July 10 visit was more time with the juvenile Cooper’s Hawks that I’d seen a few days earlier. They were in the same location and I was prepared for them.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

For this pair of images I increased my ISO to 1600 – a value that is less an ideal from an image quality standpoint  but still quite useful and remarkable compared to what we could do in the days of film.

Whenever a subject cooperates I like to get variations on framing and overall composition if at all possible. I love this setting, with the normally fierce accipiter surrounded by soft white flowers. I had some difficulty fining a completely clear view but did my best to keep the greenery from blocking the eye. In the first image (the horizontal composition) I was so concerned by the eye that I inadvertently clipped the tail at the bottom of the frame.

A minute later I was able to get a somewhat clearer view of the eye and face, and I also went to vertical to include the tip of the tail. I like both images but prefer the first one by a slight margin as it shows more of the soft setting. I”d be interested in hearing your preferences between these two images.

Nikon D300, Nikkor 300/2.8 AF-S plus TC20E III (2x), tripod, ISO 1600, 1/125-1/160th second, f/8, spot metered



  1. These photos are….I am trying hard to think of a word wonderful enough to describe them….phenomenal.

    Comment by messyme — July 22, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

  2. Great pictures

    Comment by MidnightRose7 — July 23, 2012 @ 6:23 am

  3. Stunning!

    Comment by Andree — July 26, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

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