Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Hawk

I didn't own a camera before I owned a scooter. I now have two. Both are point and shoot cameras. Actually, they are basically the same camera. The only difference between the two is one is waterproof. It is the newer of the two. When I ride it hangs from a lanyard around my neck. The older one has a case with a loop that I can wear on my belt when I'm not riding. Now I seldom am without a camera.

Riding a scooter has opened up the world around me. I see things I don't remember noticing before. Riding prompted me to get a camera. Now I find the camera, too, opens my eyes.

Heather and I visited Forest Park Saturday. I wasn't riding, but I had my camera on my belt. We walked through the old-growth woods at one end of the park and we spied a hawk up in a tree. I wasn't looking for the hawk, but I was looking. Because I was looking I saw.

After our nature walk we spent a few hours in the Zoo, which is also located in Forest Park. There was much to see there, but the real treasure happened when we were leaving. I caught something out of the corner of my eye. I stopped. I saw a hawk, perhaps the same hawk we'd seen earlier.

The hawk had it's prey. Its prey was struggling. Would it get away?

I watched and waited and took another photo.

And, I took another.

I've become a hunter much as the hawk. I collect images, some I capture in pixels, but most are but memories. Is it the hunt I enjoy or the freedom I feel as I ride? I don't know, but I sense I have a clue to what joy it must be to fly like the hawk, to respond to air currents and ride where they take me.

Ah, but there is a "but".

Last weekend we traveled to Kansas on I-70. We don't travel this road much. When we do travel on I-70 it is usually East rather than West. And, I-44 sees even more of our time. I-70 from St. Louis to Kansas City is different from the other Interstates we travel in at least one regard. The median is quite narrow. The median on I-70 to Indianapolis is much wider, as is the one on I-44. We noticed something as we drove West. We had never seen as many dead hawks on the road. Truthfully, we had hardly ever seen a dead hawk on the road. Heather was driving when I saw something unfold that I think may be the answer. A hawk went to fly from the median and barely escaped being hit by an oncoming truck. I suspect the nice mowed median makes for a great hunting area as it does on the other Interstates I mentioned, but the narrowness of this particular section means greater danger for these big birds as they attempt to fly off.

There is danger in riding. Riding calls for vigilance. A momentary lapse of attention at the wrong time and like the hawks on I-70 we can cease being the proud predator and fall prey to disaster.

There is something very natural about this, I suppose. Human's spend much time being the hunter and forget they too can be the hunted. I've come to wonder if knowing this is a vital part of our being--part of our feeling really alive. I hope to be wondering about this for many more miles.


  1. Great post. And a good reminder to be ever vigilant for things out to get us when we are out enjoying our freedom.

  2. I've been seeing a hawk in my neck of the city also. Pulled in to the drive back in Oct or Nov and he was standing in the front yard. didn't notice until he took off that he was on rabbit harvest duty, had baby still squirming when he took off. I have since seen him with rabbits now a couple of times.

    I sometimes feel like the rabbit when riding and there is a hawk on every telephone pole and tree that lines the road.

  3. Great post keith. and great pics, I love your humble attitude towards life, a trait not many posess.

  4. Great post Keith! I too have become a shutterbug since I became scooter and motorcycle addicted. Our hard drive is quickly filling up with all of my adventure pictures. Your comparison of the hawks & us is chilling. Beautiful pictures.

  5. So true that riding and photography both make us see with 'new' eyes.

    As soon as you mentioned the dead hawks I knew where you were going. Our local freeway has a grass median and I often see large birds there. We've had a hawk, and possibly an owl glance off our car on different occasions. Scary, but glad we were in the car!

    My latest bird sightings on my commute are some beautiful white egrets out in a corn field. I can't stop in that area for a photo, but they really are lovely to see.

  6. Keith:

    we don't see many birds of prey here in the city but there are lots of Crows, seagulls & pidgeons, and many Canada Goose in the parks whose job is to poop all day, everywhere. There are Bald Eagles but the crows scare them away. I am rarely without a camera too

    Riding the Wet Coast

  7. Cool photos. I love catching wildlife being wild.

  8. Really good post. Heartbreaking to see hawks that have been hit. Heartbreaking to see anything, for that matter, that does not survive the unnatural speed of our power tools on wheels.

  9. Trobairitz: Yes, ever vigilant is the best plan. Thanks for commenting.

  10. 682202: One day we came home to an unidentified raptor lunching in the next door neighbor's yard. It surprises me that wildlife and drama that goes on here in the midst of South City.

    And yes, I too have sometimes had that rabbit feeling of which you speak.

    Thanks for commenting.

  11. Roger: I always appreciate you stopping by. Thanks.

  12. Dar: Somehow I'm not surprised to learn that your hard drive is filling up. It may explode come summer :)

  13. Bluekat: Didn't you get hit by a bird while riding? My memory sometimes plays tricks on me, so perhaps it was someone else.

    It is good to hear from you. I appreciate you commenting.

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  15. bob: The City actually has established falcons on a couple of the tall buildings downtown. It has been an effective way to manage the pigeon population. Of course, the pigeon and jaeckel limbs lying about are a little disconcerting.

    The West Nile virus nearly wiped out our crow population. This past summer was the first time I began to see crows with regularity. Last Fall when Heather and I were hiking we actually saw a "murder" of crows. They certainly are noisy when you get a bunch of them together.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  16. Motoroz: It is indeed wonderful to catch wildlife being wild. The irony wasn't lost on me that we had just left the Zoo when we got to see the real thing.

    Thanks for your comment.

  17. Tiny: It saddens me every time I see a dead hawk by the road. There is something that just seems wrong about that.

    I'm always grateful to find a comment from you. Thanks.

  18. Nah...I didn't hit a bird...A bird hit me! ;)
    You remember correctly, I had a buzzard fly up out of a grass field and graze the top of my helmet. Happened so fast I didn't even have time to be scared...just surprised! The car incidents startled me more. Still I don't want a repeat on the motorbike or the car!