Today I was treated to a fantastic photo opportunity whilst going out trying to snap some pictures of the various White-crowned Sparrow subspecies that hang around down in Eaton Canyon: pugetensis and gambelii. Not much luck as usual (why do they love shady spots so?), but I did manage to spot a rather stunning American Kestrel hanging out on a nearby Lamppost.
It has rained here fairly significantly the last few days so the paddock that he was hunting in down at Eaton Canyon Equestrian Center was pretty wet and full of little mini puddles. After hunting for a few minutes he decided it was time to cool off and dropped down into the puddles for a nice refreshing bath (I hope that you can make out the droplets of water in the next shot!)
I slowly worked myself into the right angle for the sun and crept a little closer to the bird. He was so intent on bathing he barely noticed me and by the end of the shoot I found myself lying on the somewhat soggy ground using the bars of the paddock as an impromptu camera rest (top tip I have been given by a few great bird photographer friends – get down to their level). I hope that no-one was watching me at this point, as they probably would have thought I was crazy. Still, I think it was worth while looking a bit ridiculous after looking at the results.
After taking a little time to dry out in the warming sun (allowing me time for a couple more pictures), the kestrel flew up to the phone wires to carry on his days routine. He seems to have been hanging out for a few weeks in the local vicinity so hopefully more opportunities come along to shoot him, I’m not sure I am going to get so lucky with the setting though. I guess it raining isn’t such a pain after all.