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A Day with a Falconer
Lens: Sigma 70-300mm APO DG Macro Camera: K-30 ISO: 400 
Posted By: Dewman, 07-30-2017, 10:16 PM

This past March, a friend of mine who is a licensed falconer invited me out with him to put his Merlin falcon through her paces. A gorgeous little bird. He also had a "pet" barn owl named Angus that had only one wing. He had rescued it after finding it in the wild, severely injured. He took him to the vet and his left wing had to be amputated. Although he had the owl for almost 8 years, he said, "That SOB hates my guts!"

I managed to get some fairly close-up photos of Angus, although when he began hissing at me, I immediately backed up! In the extreme close-up, you can see my reflection standing in the doorway of his enclosure.

The following week after this photo shoot, my friend released the little Merlin back into the wild to continue on with her life. I've been invited to go on another outing with another of his friends who has a Golden Eagle! I'm really looking forward to that foray!


The Sigma 70-300mm APO DG lens worked perfectly for this situation.

Last edited by Dewman; 01-10-2018 at 08:36 PM.
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07-30-2017, 11:02 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Nice series. All good. I like your reflection in that last one. I "flew" a hawk myself in England last year (a Harris Hawk) and held a Golden Eagle/Steppe Eagle hybrid on my glove (he was not fully trained so wasn't flown). I have always wanted to get a bit more in touch with falconry. My family heritage goes back to falconry in the 12th century when Frederick II wrote his treatise on the art. Our surname "Jesser" seems to have had its origins in Fred's hawk stables (as in relating to the jesses that are fitted to the hawks) because the first record of the name was in Heidelberg at that time. I like to think we were training the birds but maybe we were only mucking out the bird cages.
07-30-2017, 11:04 PM   #3
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A wonderful series of photographs of these beautiful birds. Very well taken.
07-30-2017, 11:58 PM   #4
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I must agree with the other commentators. I really like these birds, I mean just look at those gorgeous eyes. Being stared down by one these birds, and you know you are in trouble.

Thanks so much for sharing.

TT

07-31-2017, 03:39 AM   #5
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Thank you all for the kind words. This was my first time to ever be involved in such an event. It's something I had always found very interesting, so when I had the chance to participate, I jumped at the opportunity! I was amazed to learn how he captured this Merlin in the wild. He had had her for only about 6 months and had already trained her to go through her paces. Such an intelligent bird! The owl was amazing, too! In my OP, I misidentified it as a "barn owl," but it actually is a "Great Horned Owl." It can have a wingspan of up to 5 feet! It was very apparent that he was capable of inflicting some very serious damage with his talons and beak. My friend, Dave, told me of an electrical lineman who was actually killed by one while trying to remove it from a nest on one of the highline towers. Apparently, the owl attacked him and severed a carotid artery and the man died before help could arrive. YIKES!
07-31-2017, 06:55 AM - 1 Like   #6
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That merlin is one beautiful bird. Nice series of shots.
07-31-2017, 10:09 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dewman Quote
who has a Golden Eagle

Great series and good to see you're posting again--I'll definitely look forward to seeing the Golden Eagle if you can swing it...big medicine, indeed! (BTW, I have a story about being trapped in my granny's enclosed chicken coop with a white phase Great Horned Owl who was none too pleased to find himself in a #2 Victor...I suppose you could spend a lot of time counting up the felonies.)
07-31-2017, 05:35 PM   #8
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Wonderful photos and what a great experience.
But from this thread you saw the golden eagle and not a falcon.
Bird of prey ID required to settle an argument -- photo not mine. - PentaxForums.com

08-01-2017, 03:42 AM   #9
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I also like the shots a lot. That lens did extremely well. I have the tamron version and that is what I used to start me in portrait photography.

In the last shot. The lens help up pretty good even though it was zoomed in to 300m.

Well done.
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