Sep. 8, 2014, driving the auto tour route at the Ridgefield NWR, I came upon the area where there is a vast expanse of mowed fields. This Northern Harrier had just performed its acrobatic twist in mid air from a few feet above the ground and pounced on something out of my view. I saw the action from a ways away and drove to the point on the road closest to the bird–probably 200 feet. Luckily, the grass was relatively sparse where the harrier landed.
I expected to see the bird quickly consume the catch. But instead it appeared to be playing with the mouse. Looking through my 500mm lens, I could see the bird hopping around and circling its prey that was obviously on the ground and not able to escape. There were even times during this ‘play’ that I saw the mouse jump up high enough so that it was momentarily visible to me. It was obvious that the prey was still alive yet the bird kept dancing around it. During one of the more animated dance/play moves that the harrier made, I shot a burst of frames and caught this interesting shot where both the bird and mouse are airborne. Nature never ceases to amaze me. Hope you like it!
Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1250, f4, ISO 1600, 500mm, 9:34 a.m.
Update 7Oct2015: This image was published in the inaugural issue of the magazine, “Ridgefield Living,” September 2015, page 28. Thanks to Rick Browne, editor of the magazine, for choosing my image for this first edition!