Belle's silhouette, a blacker black than the pre-dawn darkness, drew me through the French doors and out onto the deck this morning, but the golden orb resting on a nest of treetops just over the deck railing is what sent me scrambling back inside for my camera.
I snapped before making the right adjustments, just wanting to capture enough to jog my memory.
After fiddling with the adjustments, I snapped a few more as the moon dropped fast below the treetops, like a celebrity ducking from the paparazzi. Still not great photography, but more of a resemblance to the color as I saw it. (These are straight out of the camera.)
An hour later, when enough morning light had trickled into the Hollow to see the road, the puppies and I headed out for our walk.
I spotted it right away, as soon as I stepped into the clearing, as you will when something new appears in a familiar place.
It didn't move. Was it a bird or merely a plastic bag caught in the branches?
I raised my camera, grateful I'd chosen the zoom lens this morning, snapped a shot, then magnified my capture for a closer look. A head appeared at the top of the white. Streaks of dark through the body.
It was a Red-Tailed Hawk! Oh, my!
I'd heard his call in the Hollow for years. Caught glimpses of him soaring in the distance or perched briefly on the tops of telephone poles. But I'd never seen him just sitting still for longer than a second... in essence, posing for me.
Alas, he was too far away to capture any crisp clear photos of him, especially with the clearing still bathed in dawn's shadows, but I snapped away, made adjustments, slowly stepped ever closer, and hoped for the best.
Eventually he tired of the photo shoot, or perhaps just felt I was getting too close. Spreading his wings, he dropped, then swooped across the clearing right in front of me. Given the split-second choice of fiddling with my camera adjustments to try to capture him in flight, or just watch him fly...
...I chose watching.
And giving thanks.
P.S. Would you believe during the whole hawk photo shoot my puppies sat very still beside me, just watching and waiting? This is their very favorite spot to run - plus they love to bark at the wild things around us - and yet they just sat there. Yet another morning gift. Sweet puppies.