My first “Raptor Fest”

I had heard about Raptor Fest at Boyd Hill Park for several years but never went. I’m not keen on going to big festivals at my favorite parks. I’d rather go when it’s quiet and not crowded. This year peer pressure got the best of me when I had several friends saying you have to go this year. I got there early and got a good spot for the Earthquest program in the open field. Earthquest is a non-profit environmental education program that introduces the public to different raptors, all of which have come from rehabilitation situations that cannot be released in the wild. They gave examples of how we impact the raptors lives and ways to lessen that impact.  Above is a hawk, I think a red-tailed hawk which is not rare here but not as common as the red shoulder hawk. He was to fly into the tree and then fly to the perch in front. He flew to the tree but never made it to the perch and took off across the park. He eventually came back but everybody got a good laugh at the handler’s expense.

Above is a Harris’s Hawk which I had never seen before.

Black vulture and turkey vultures, both of which I see a lot of around here. One thing I learned is that black vultures find their food by sight, which is why they soar high in the sky. They have amazing sight. Turkey vultures (with the red face and big nose) find their food by smell, which is why they are mostly seen on the ground.

The above condor stole the show. He’s an andean condor but we learned about California condors and their brink of extinction as well.This guy had so much personality. He was supposed to hop up on the perch to get his food but he showed the handler there was an easier way (although I suspect it was planned all along).

A golden eagle which you can’t find in Florida.

Several local bird rescue and rehabilitation groups were also there with injured birds to get close to. Most were missing a wing or an eye.

My friends were right, it was a fun morning. Crowded but fun to watch the kids see these great birds up close. It was also a good morning to practice flight photography as some of the birds flew from tree to perch. There were tons of big cameras and lenses there. Can’t wait until next year’s in early February. I also got some good pictures of an eurasian eagle owl in flight which I’ll post later.

Linking to My Corner of the World.

Watching Grumpy take a bath at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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We saw this condor in one of the exhibits near the front of the park walk up to the edge of the water. This is a bird we wouldn’t see in Florida except at a zoo. This was back in early March when my sister came to visit from South Dakota.

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I thought he was just getting a sip of water but we stood there for a few minutes to see what he would do.

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Drip. He paused for a moment.

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He then took a couple of steps into the water and started flapping his wings. He was taking a bath in front of all of the tourists.

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He was having a great time. It was a little chilly that morning so he must have just thought he was dirty.

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He stuck his head under the water.

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He came up on land and started to dry off. He’s a scruffy looking bird.

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He walked over to the other side of the exhibit with his wet wings.

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He had a nest! He stood on the side and waiting for his wings to dry off.

We watched him for a while. He seemed oblivious to all around. The exhibit is not enclosed with netting or anything on top so I was able to shoot without getting something in the way. I’m assuming his wings are clipped. He was a big beautiful bird but had a grumpy face. I finally finished editing all of the pictures I took of our early spring trip to Animal Kingdom. I remembered watching this guy and thinking how cool it was we got to see him bathing. I’ll probably never see a condor out in the wild so this is the closest I’ll get. We were pretty close there at the exhibit.

Camera Critters