Getting a photo of a Prairie Falcon and Duck Photography

Went out to Pitt Meadows to see the Prairie Falcon and Gyrfalcon in the area because they are two birds I admire. I have a decent shot of a juvenile Gyrfalcon but wanted one of the adult. There is an adult Gyrfalcon in Pitt Meadows. Yesterday, sadly I could not get a photo of her. The people who saw her earlier that day said she was scope views only, so I'll have to try her again. This feisty Prairie Falcon shares the same hunting range with the Gyrfalcon. She has defeated the odds and stands her ground which I didn't think would happen when the Gyr came to town last year. I thought for sure the Prairie Falcon would be pushed out by the more powerful Gyrfalcon but this wasn't the case.

Even though I didn't get my Gyrfalcon photo, I did accomplish one of my goals; which was to photograph a Prairie Falcon. I have seen many in my life in the Canadian Prairies and in BC, WA, OR and AZ but my photos have always been blurry or distant record shots.

Yesterday, the Prairie Falcon was perched on an open limb on Sharpe Rd facing old Dewdney Trunk Rd in Pitt Meadows. My friends Mike Tabak and John Gordon had spotted her. I also bumped into another friend Dave Schutz, who pulled up in his car and looked at the adult Prairie Falcon at the same time. The Prairie looked like it would fly, so I had no time to put on my teleconverter. She hopped from one branch to an another, did a wing flap and stretch and flew as fast as lightning to the ground. She landed, perhaps caught something and quickly picked up off the ground, veered left and was not seen again that day. The rocket speed and power these falcons exhibit is incredible. I love watching these powerful and fast Raptors in flight.

Adult Prairie Falcon in Pitt Meadows - Photo: Melissa Hafting

What a cool moment and one many I hope will have the chance to experience. She will be here all winter,  it's the third winter she's returned to the area. Truly a beautiful falcon and all the more special since they are native to our North American continent.

I also stopped in at Burnaby Lake to try and perfect my duk photography. I went to shoot Wood Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Green-winged Teal and Widgeon and maybe even some Long-billed Dowitchers. However, none of those photos were quite right until a Northern Pintail Drake came swimming by me in perfect light on golden water. "Click" I had that shot I've always wanted. They are very skittish ducks and I've never gotten that desired shot, until yesterday. Duck photography is hard. It may look easy because "It's a duck". They don't flit around in branches they just sit there right? Well no, you are wrong. The water is usually too choppy for a nice photo it's very hard to get a nice low angle because you are lying on either rocks, metal, goose dung or are half submerged in water and frozen solid (and half hypothermic). Today was no different, I lay down on ice and snow and used my waterproof snow gloves as knee pads, it worked for awhile but became highly uncomfortable. Oh well it was worth it and I'll keep working at my duck photography, because practice makes perfect.

Here are some professional tips on Duck Photography:

Northern Pintail Drake in Burnaby - Photo: Melissa Hafting


  1. That Northern Pintail drake photo is stunning!!!!
    Congrats on getting the prairie falcon! I tried once last year and dipped, but I hope to try again this year, same for the gyr.
    Have a happy Christmas and a merry new year!

    1. thank you so much my dear!! it only took me my whole life to get that drake pic of a pintail.. you can see im not great at duck photography ;) haha

      i hope you get that prfa soon! he seems to be pretty consistenly at sharpe rd and connecting road or sharpe and old dewdney trunk. trust me i know how you feel i dipped on it a few times last season but went back so keep trying! the gyrf has been far less reliable this year but hopefully you get to see her too! happy christmas and even better new year to you, marnix and family!


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