Great Expectations..

     In Dickens classic 1860 Novel Great Expectations we follow the orphan Pip as he leaves behind a childhood of misery and poverty after an anonymous benefactor offers him a chance at the life of a gentleman. Fast forward to today. I had similar Great Expectations that the new Canon 7D Mk II (follow on to my current 7D) would bring me a small step closer to the world of professional photography. My not so anonymous benefactor (the Editor) made it possible with her extra summer pay. The new camera arrived with much anticipation this past week.

      In March of last year I stood on the dock and watched a then unknown species of hawk flying low over the marsh looking to scare up red-winged blackbirds for a quick “carry out” lunch so to speak. Intent on its prey, this raptor did not notice me until it was nearly upon me. It finally glanced up and saw me and then did a classic “wing over” maneuver as I pressed the doohickey. It was and still is one of my favorite early captures. It took me a while to identify this hawk from the near similar species in the area. It turns out it was a Northern Harrier. The owl like face feathers distinguish this hawk from the Coopers or Red Shouldered hawk. It was in January of this year when I saw perhaps the same bird doing the same flight profile over the marsh. And like before it did not see me until the last moment and again did the wing over maneuver. Unfortunately my captured image was not as full winged as the one the year before.

      This past week I stood on the dock with great expectations that I would again see this bird of prey swoop over the marsh and capture it with the new camera. The next day as I was walking up the dock I saw the Harrier sweeping low over the marsh early in the morning. I ran to capture the moment but got only a fleeting tail feather shot in poor light as it headed up the Broward. Disappointed, I returned to the house to tell the Editor of my misfortune, grabbed a fresh refill on the coffee and headed back to the dock. I no sooner arrived with camera and coffee mug in tow, than I saw the Harrier heading back towards me. I dropped the coffee, flicked the on switch and pointed the lens at the fast approaching bird and pushed the doohickey as it flew by in what seemed only a split second of time. I heard the new camera shutter rapidly firing as I tried desperately to keep the bird in the viewfinder.

      I looked at the playback a moment later after the bird disappeared. My Great Expectation was no longer an illusion. There in the small screen I had indeed captured the moment. It lasted for only a second in time but to me it brought me much closer to my dream. I hope you enjoy my Great Expectations in this magnificent bird of prey now captured on three different occasions. Third times a charm they say. Be Blessed. Harry

My Bald Cyprus Tree (The General) is as close to fall foliage that I see in Northern Florida.

Got Wings?  I capture this Northern Harrier in March 2013 in a classic "Wing Over" maneuver. 

In January 2014 I captured a Northern Harrier in a similar maneuver early one morning in the Golden Hour. Perhaps the same bird?

After a fleeting tail shot fifteen minutes prior to this,  I capture a series of the fast approaching Northern Harrier in a split second of time.

The Harrier glances and sees me.

Once again it starts into a wing over maneuver...

Another classic wing over

I think it recognized me and decided it is just Mr Doohickey and continues on its hunt.

My Great Expectations with the new 7D Mk II camera were indeed realized… for that new lens..might need a more generous benefactor though :)


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