For the past few days, my buddy, Justin, and I have been excited for the expected sunshine for today and we discussed going to State Line to hopefully see the Peregrine Falcons. For whatever reason, I was a little flakey and unsure, but by the end of the work week I knew I just had to go down.
Today finally arrived and we were both excited to get out early and enjoy the sunshine and beautiful blue skies since it has been weeks since we've had gorgeous weather on the weekend. We got on the road just after 7am and we were in New Jersey by 8:30. it was a bit of a ride, but it didn't feel all that long as we chatted all the way down.
As happy as we were about the sunshine and blue sky, we soon realized that the area where we were hoping to see the peregrines had the harshest of light. In addition to the harsh light, there was heat radiating off the cliffs which made focusing on our subjects extremely tough. It was a bit disappointing as we've been seeing all these fantastic shots from other photographers in that area.
The morning progressed slowly and the male peregrine falcon flew in and landed on the famous branch twice. Due to the harsh light and the focussing issues, my photo's in that area turned out to be a bit too soft for my liking. Luckily though, that wound up being only a small part of our day. Both the male and the female peregrine landed in some really awesome locations along the cliffs (on the rocks and in the trees). Each time allowing us to get fantastic shots.
The day wound up being so busy that I'm not even going to try to pin point the exact moments from the day. Instead, I'll give an overall highlight.
The female peregrine sat twice for us on the rocks. Both times for at least 20 minutes. The first location she stopped at, there were some branches in the way in front of the bottom part of her body, but that wasn't too bad as we got clean shots of her face and upper body. The second location she stopped at was absolutely fantastic as it was on the rocks in a really clean location with a backdrop of the water that we were able to blur out and make look real nice. She must have sat there for at least 20 mins (if not longer). At some point while watching her, the male had flown in and landed in a tree to the right of us. We couldn't get shots of him there as we were looking into the sun at him. Both sat for the longest time and out of nowhere started yelling and getting upset. We soon realized that there was an immature peregrine circling around and causing them to get angry. Instead of it moving along, it kept circling and circling until eventually the male took off to chase it and then the female followed after. It was amazing to watch the chase and the dives, yet impossible to get pics as there were too many trees in the way. No biggie on the pics though as it was so fun to see the interaction.
After that the female left and didn't give us any further opportunities for the day. However, the male entertained us for the remainder of the afternoon. He landed in the same tree he was previously in and we were able to position ourselves south of him to keep the sun behind us. He sat there forever.... preening, scratching and posing so nicely for us. After a good half hour of watching him, he took off with no warning. The perfect take-off, straight towards us with no obstacles in the way for nice photo's. At least 7 or 8 of us there and not a single one of us got a shot of the perfect take-off. He eventually returned and perched in a spot that wasn't as nice as the original spot, but still good enough for photo's. He stayed for at least another 20 minutes and flew off, just to return for a third time (in that same not as good spot).
After his third take-off, that was it for us seeing the peregrine's for the remainder of our time at State Line. Rumor had it that they both went across the river and that was the last anyone had seen of them up til the time we left.
The day was truly amazing and fun. I'm thrilled that Justin and I went all that way and had some awesome opportunities with the pair of peregrine falcons. Hopefully we'll make it back down there in a few weeks!
Here is the beautiful female sitting in the most amazing spot on the cliff. This shot was taken of her yelling at the immature peregrine just moments before she took off after the male and the immature (the intruder).