Falconus Interuptus: A photographic story of Two Tails and a Peregrine


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This story begins as many of my photography adventures do “I was paddling my kayak along the shores of Tomales Bay, taking pictures of whatever I saw of interest, when…”

I saw this juvenile Peregrine Falcon speeding through the air

“My camera swung up, and I followed it. Click. Click. Click. I fired off several shots, capturing it as…”

It circled by me before heading for a copse of trees on Tom's Point, a bird preserve on the East Shore of Tomales Bay

And here is where the story takes a new twist. I saw in the copse of cypress trees that the young Peregrine was racing towards, a pair of Red-tailed Hawks, coupled in romantic embrace (or what birds may consider romantic). Apparently the Peregrine saw them also, because…

The falcon was zipping right for the coupling couple

Now what do you think those Redtails were thinking when they saw the Peregrine gunning for them? I’m not really sure, but I can guess what they were thinking right after…

The feathered missile dislodged him from her

And I am sure it wasn’t complimentary. Luckily for the falcon, she is one of the fastest creatures alive. Without waiting for them to catch their balance,

The Peregrine was well on its way, before the male could even settle onto a perch

The Red-tail Hawks seemed to try to regain a sense of equilibrium, but the moment was spoilt. I don’t know if it was to gloat, or if there was some sort of death wish involved, but…

The young falcon circled back around to view the aftermath, of two larger hawks perched on their own branches, separated

This is the only time I have seen such a thing, where one species so rudely interrupted another in such an obvious way. It was truly a very different sight to behold.

For another amazing raptor encounter that I witnessed, check out these photographs of a Red-tailed Hawk and an octopus

About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website- www.galenleeds.net
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12 Responses to Falconus Interuptus: A photographic story of Two Tails and a Peregrine

  1. Victor Ho says:

    Very nice sequence. How fortunate you were! It was a truly special moment. Was it possible to crop or did the image become too noisy? Your kayak lead-in is great. There are a number of solutions but in the end you have to be prepared for some water. Some thoughts – a waterproof bag sold in many outdoor stores will keep things dry till you need them. Bring a towel/plastic bag. There are waterproof bags made to seal around your camera except for the end of the lens. Hang the camera from your neck/strap. This may be a bit awkward but it gives you ready access. In defense of the more expensive cameras, they are a bit better water sealed. I have used the big telephoto without a problem. You’re right in not wanting to do too much changing in the boat. I have also used the Canon G11 and found that the rain didn’t harm the camera. Above all keep up your good work.

  2. Vicki says:

    Really Nice shots! what a wonderful thing to behold…fortuitous you (again)!

  3. Mark Goodwin says:

    Wow what a strange thing to happen. with your permission I will post a link to the RSPB here and see if any of the brains of Britain can add a comment.

    Well captured!

  4. gagarden says:

    This is really a very unique capture because to the differing species. I too can think of a few choice sayings for all three bird’s thinking. Birds are quite amorous, and will start all over again I believe. I have a male cockatoo and at breeding time anything is likely to be mounted, over and over and over again.

    • Thanks GreenApples

      The mention of your cockatoo reminds me of one of the more entertaining bird videos I’ve seen. It is of some people trying to film the endangered parrot of New Zealand- a flightless bird called a Kakopo- and it gets a little amorous with the crew-Camera man gets shagged by a rare parrot.

      • gagarden says:

        That video was hilarious and I laughed the whole way through. My cockatoo looks just like that rare parrot and the object of his attention is my husband. Creem Cheez is not satisfied until the act is completed either. Then they both have a cigar. Just kidding on the cigar, though, but I would love to video this copulation, but my husband would kill me. BTW, I am Donna from Garden Walk Garden Talk too. Subscribing to your blog automatically directs me through my other blog Green Apples to comment here. Loved the crazy loons too. They are more comical walking than most birds.

  5. Meg says:

    WOW, that was awsome!

  6. dogear6 says:

    I’d have not believed it without the photos! Incredible.

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