Monday, 16 March 2009


Normally I wouldn't dream of presenting such a poor-quality and out-of-focus picture like the one below, but this is an exception so read on!

After spending the last month on vacation I tried to get back into my work routine this morning - up at 06:30 or thereabouts and then the usual stuff before heading into the office - I don't know if other people are like me, but I'm quite happy getting up at 5am on a weekend but on a workday I find it tough to wake up. Don't get me wrong either, I'm one of the lucky people who actually enjoy my job!

Anyway, just before leaving I heard a real commotion outside in the yard. The local mynah birds were making a big fuss but it wasn't the usual performance - they spend most mornings having a dancing party on my tin roof which annoys the hell out of me (and I swear they know that). This time there was real alarm in their calls. I ignored it at first but after a few minutes looked out of the window to see what was going on. I saw a couple of mynahs near the top of a tree looking very worried and fussing like nobody's business.

I finally figured out what they were looking at and was stunned to see this in the trees about 20 yards away:

It's an `Io or Hawaiian Hawk. It's endemic to Hawai`i and an endangered species. I've seen them before, but only flying around at extreme altitudes looking for prey and then only very rarely; I'd never seen one this close. I'd estimate it's length to be about 18-inches which would make it an adult.

It had caught some prey - just what, I don't know - and was starting to feed on it. It took me a minute or two and then realised I really should try and take a picture, so ran downstairs and grabbed the camera. I took a couple of very hurried photos through an extremely grubby upstairs window, hence the poor quality picture. I couldn't get the camera to focus properly and was in a rush to get any sort of shot before the bird spotted me and flew away. In fact the picture above was taken just as he or she saw me and that was that, off it went.

What a thrill though and I feel really privileged that this `Io visited my garden. It made up for all my recent whale-watching failures!


Zuzana said...

I think the picture is pretty good! I can never take any good photographs of birds; they are to fast, they move all the time and as they are surrounded by branches and leaves, the camera always focuses on those instead of the birds..
What an interesting encounter.;)

Keera Ann Fox said...

What a wonderful event in your garden! Good (enough) pic, too!

Hilary said...

I know that feeling well. Consider yourself gifted by that bird's presence. I'll bet you're still smiling. :)

Tom said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone, and Hilary really hit the nail on the head - it's an encounter I will never forget! Just making eye contact, no matter how briefly, with such a rare, special and powerful bird was incredible.

Tom said...

PS. I should add that I've seen hawks up close before, but tame ones in zoos and shows. There's simply nothing like actually making eye contact with a wild one, the look is so different which really added to this very special event.