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Field Report: Photographing the Crested Goshawk in China

This field report comes from Jonathan Martinez who used a Tragopan blind to photograph a Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus) at a water hole in central Guangxi Province, China:

When the weather turns hot and there hasn’t been rain for a while I often work on photographing passerines in a nearby forest fragment where I have created a few small pools. I set up the Tragopan Blind very close to the pool, about 3 to 4 meters, and will sometimes actually cover the blind with branches and vines from the forest. Some of the small passerines, especially the flycatchers, have very strong eyes and do not tolerate any movement at such a close distance so usually I set up the blind with the Camo Long Lens Sleeve and open the zipper on the lens sleeve window enough so that I can see. I also place one of the small mesh panes in front of the opening to mask any movement inside of the blind. The lens is always directed at a small branch I placed above the pool as it is the first place most of the birds land before heading to the pool.

Fairly close to one of my pools there is a Crested Goshawk nest but I never imagined that they would use such a small pool for bathing. I expected that a large bird like a goshawk would bath in a bigger pond so I was completely shocked to see a beautiful male land right in front of me. I was totally shaking inside the blind! Looking through the small window all I could see were two piercing yellow eyes looking in my direction. The bird was just outside of my expected landing area so I decided not to move the camera until the bird appeared a bit more relaxed (and me too!). Soon, the bird moved to the branch and I started to slowly take one and two pictures at a time. The bird didn’t seem to care about the sounds of the mirror on my Canon 7D and soon I was able to slowly move the camera as well. The blind did its job and the bird became confident that it was not in danger quite quickly.

I photographed for 15 minutes but it seemed like an hour with the intensity of emotion I felt to have this bird so close to me. It felt like a dream!