For Christmas, my parents bought me a very nice Nikon D3000 camera, which takes beautiful, hi-res photos. One of the reasons I wanted a camera was to enhance the quality of photos I post to this blog. The hard part is remembering that I have this camera now, and that I don’t have to use my beat up iPhone to capture important moments. There were a few today, and one that will probably never happen again, and all I could think about was how useless a camera is if it’s in a bag at home. That being said, please try to enjoy the content of the following pictures and ignore the quality.

A few months ago, I wrote about a large field near my house where I like to take Sawyer. It’s open, there are usually a few small birds flitting around, and Sawyer doesn’t have to be on a leash, which means he can run himself ragged while I walk slowly along. This field has become our go-to destination recently; we try to make two or three trips a week. Recently, geese have been swarming the northern end of the field in the early morning, and I’ve been trying to get Sawyer there early enough to scare them off. He’ll never need to flush geese, but they’re birds, and Sawyer would think it was fun. This morning, we finally got there in time.

We parked upwind of them, and Sawyer was too excited to notice at first, so we walked the long way around, and came at the flock from downwind. About fifty yards away, Sawyer finally perked up and noticed the birds. He froze up for a beat, then crept forward, constantly looking back at me to see if I would object. I urged him on, he finally broke, charged the birds, and they scattered. He followed them across the field as they flew away, then sped back to me. Totally worth it.

We walked for a while longer, and I threw the frisbee for him to chase, but on one toss, he darted off in another direction and wouldn’t come back. When I went to see what had distracted him, I found him nearly on point, hackles standing erect, watching a large Red-tailed Hawk that had perched on a cattle fence.

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And the thing just stared at us. I was no more than ten feet away and Sawyer was within licking distance, and still it held it’s ground. Sawyer barked once or twice, each time retreating immediately afterward. Whenever Sawyer got too close, it would spread it’s wings in warning. I don’t know if it was hurt, or just ballsy, but it sat there placidly while Sawyer shouted threats from afar and I took low quality pictures with my back turned. (The regular lens on my phone is scratched beyond repair, so in order to get photos of any quality at all I need to face away from the subject and shoot over my shoulder.)

Otherwise, they turn out like this.

Otherwise, they turn out like this.

Eventually Sawyer lost interest, and left to explore elsewhere, but I was still amazed. It was rigidly still, not even blinking, and like a small child at a zoo, I wanted it to move. There was no glass to bang on, so instead I laid my last dog treats in a line along the fence to tempt the hawk. He was unimpressed.

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As if my pitiful offering had offended it, the hawk took off — his wings made a whoomp sound with each beat — and was gone. I never got a good picture of him. Sawyer and I left, both feeling morally defeated, I think. I left the treats there, because we didn’t deserve them anymore.

– Matt

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