A good lesson about photography is to always be prepared to take photos at any time. While hiking, my DSLR camera is switched on (the Nikon battery will last many hours in this mode) with a good telephoto lens, and usually set at 1000 ISO and Mode P. This insures I can quickly take quality photos of birds, butterflies, deer, etc. Many times there are only a few seconds of opportunity.
I was reminded of this lesson again while hiking near some large trees. A murder of crows were squawking more than usual nearby.
Soon I noticed violent movement in the deep layer of leaves under one of the trees. Slowly moving forward it became obvious that a Cooper’s hawk had got a flicker (a large woodpecker more than a foot in length). By “got” I mean that he had a set of talons in the prey bird, was attempting to keep it from escaping, and all the while was using his beak to finish the job and begin the meal.
After taking a long sequence of photos from roughly 15 feet away (the flicker eventually died), I walked away. If I had attempted to get closer, frightening away the hawk, the crows would have taken over.
I always attempt to photograph wildlife in its natural state. It’s much more difficult than photography at a zoo or wildlife park, but much more rewarding.