Monday, February 20, 2012

More “Gray Ghost”, the Male Northern Harrier

A short while ago, I had written a blog about "Gray Ghost" ( and how it was the first time that I was able to photograph it.  On my photographic trip to Utah, I even got a better chance to photograph the male Northern Harrier.  The number of Northern Harriers that were present and active at the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area and at Antelope Island State Park were at times mind-boggling.  The causeway leading to Antelope Island State Park has on both sides areas of grass and bushes that support prey for not only the harriers, but also Rough-legged Hawks and American Kestrels.  By driving slowly, and pulling over to the side.  You can photograph the raptors from your car.
During the night prior to the last day of photography, there was a small snowstorm, which left about 1 to 2 inches of snow in the valley.  Driving on the causeway, there was a very strong wind blowing across the causeway and across the Great Salt Lake.  The wind help keep the raptors in a hovering type mode.
I was able to photograph the "Gray Ghost" not only flying, but also perched on the ground and feeding on a mouse, that it had caught.  My companion, Middleton, was that he had been waiting 20 years to photograph "great ghost"perched.
-_D7K4145  NIKON D7000 February 19, 2012
Male in Flight - whitish underparts and black wing tips
-_ROT8461  NIKON D3S February 19, 2012
On the ground
-_ROT8408  NIKON D3S February 19, 2012
-_ROT8380  NIKON D3S February 19, 2012
-Gray Ghost with mouse_D7K4159  NIKON D7000 February 19, 2012
Flying with mouse

For comparison, here is a female Northern Harrier in flight. Notice the darker wings and body and no large black tips on the wings.
-_D7K4130  NIKON D7000 February 19, 2012
There will be more blogs coming about my Utah trip, so stay tuned.