A season of observing hawks (and other animals) – wildlife photography of winter 2021-22

This photo essay is dedicated to late Mirza Naim S. Beg, who passed away in March 2022. He was a renowned wildlife photographer and eco-tourist from Pakistan.

It seems like yesterday we were exchanging notes on why winter photography would be easier for me to do in the Greater Toronto Area.

Mirza Naim Beg, through his photography, wildlife pages on Facebook, and organized ecotourism trips, woke me up from my slumber of 20 years on wildlife photography. I distinctly recall that during a wildlife trip to Pakistan from Canada in February 2020, he was constantly educating me on local wildlife, its habitat, and on how to improve my pathetic photography technique. You can read about the details of the wildlife project here.

During my hikes with K2 in the ravines and parks of Mississauga and Etobicoke, I took shots of wildlife, albeit far too less than any of the previous winters.

Winter photography was challenging as usual. The temperatures were in double digit below freezing. I had to use handwarmers inside winter mittens to keep my hands and fingers warm every now and then. In addition, I had to wear a toque and ear mufflers.

All photography was done on the go using Pentax hyper-program mode on Pentax K-5iis and Pentax KP cameras with Pentax DA 55-300 mm PLM, DA 300* mm, and DA 18-135 mm lenses without any post-processing. I know the shots are not good quality, but please enjoy.

Red-tailed hawk with an eastern grey squirrel kill got distracted by another raptor in the area
A red-tailed hawk resting
A red-tailed hawk waiting the snow storm out
American mink on frozen Credit River with a catch
White-tailed deer in a ravine near my home
Greater scaups at Humber Bay Park West in Etobicoke
Buffleheads (drakes and ducks) with a blurred mallard drake in the background at Humber Bay Park West in Etobicoke
Four male long-tailed drakes and a duck at Humber Bay Park West in Etobicoke
A trumpeter swan among mallards at Humber Bay Park West in Etobicoke
Red-breasted merganser drake and duck in a ravine near my home
Ubiquitous Canada geese in a conservation area near my home
An unidentified caterpillar in early march in a ravine near my home
American robins like this one on snow lurk in the ravines near my home.
A red-winged male blackbird is back in a ravine near my home to claim his territory in early March
And, of course, K2, ever ready for an adventure

Until our next blog, cheers! Be outdoorsy, embrace diversity, and support causes for the conservation of nature!

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