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Surprise Visitor for Niek Bowen

Surprise Visitor for Niek Bowen
Photo Information
Copyright: Anna Eksteen (Miss_Piggy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2285 W: 5 N: 5300] (18714)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-02-26
Categories: Birds
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC H9, Digital ISO 100
Exposure: f/4.5, 1/500 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Birds of South Africa 3, Dedications I have made, Animals from my garden [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2009-02-26 14:18
Viewed: 5544
Favorites: 5 [view]
Points: 98
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
African Harrier Hawk / Polyboroides typus

Today's posting I would like to dedicate to Niek Bouwen SunToucher for his continuing effort to try and explain, or to calm whoever was upset or uncertain over recent happenings on the forum, about selling their images without their consent. I respect Niek for staying so cool and collective in all the time that this has taken place and take my hat of for him for doing it in such a professional and relaxed manner. Thank you Niek it did not go unnoticed.

This image is very special to me. I really think of all the photographs that I have taken thus far, I enjoyed this one the best. It came as a surprise and very much unexpected. Just before Loot left for work, we heard a continuous whistling sound; it even could have been an animal crying far away. After Loot left, I heard the sound again but this time it sounded very close, and I went outside to see if I could see anything. Just as I turned around I heard it again behind me, and as I looked up I saw what I thought was an eagle perched in our coconut palm.

Like a flash I made a u-turn inside the house to fetch the camera. At the time I started to shoot away, I only saw one, (not this one in the image) and at that stage I did not realise why it kept on calling out. Then I heard the same whistling sound coming from another direction and saw another bird on top of the pencil conifer. It was such a delightful sight and I started taking photos one after the other as quickly as I could. The one on the conifer lifted up in the sky, and glided though the air and went to sit on a tree far in the distance. It started to call again. The bird I saw the first time then also flew away and I thought my photographic session for the day has ended. They both returned after a while, and I took some more photos. It was an absolute thrill to hear and see these birds of preys so close to me, in my own garden. This surely made my day, more than once.

The day was very long as I could not wait for Loot to return from work to show him. Upon downloading, Loot told me that it was not an 'eagle' as I thought but a hawk and that the one in this image is actually a juvenile, and the other one, which I first saw, is an adult female. Wow, this is an experience I will not easily forget. I will also place a photograph of the beautiful female in due course.

General Overview
In Afrikaans this bird is called a "Kaalwangvalk".

If you see a large, broad-winged hawk with a broad white band on its black tail soaring over the treetops, it will certainly be an African harrier hawk, or Gymnogene, a name which comes from the Greek words for bare-cheeked (echoed in the Afrikaans name too). Usually the bare face is light yellow, but when two Gymnogenes greet each other at the nest or elsewhere, the faces blushes to a deep orange.

This bird has a unique way of extracting small animals from deep crevices in trees or rock faces; its ankle joint can bend forward, allowing its foot to probe down a vertical crack. This is why you may see this hawk hanging onto a tree trunk and flapping to keep its balance while it investigates a likely hole with one foot.

This bird of prey's plumage undergoes a bewildering variety of changes from juvenile to adult, starting off uniform chocolate brown, passing through mottled lighter brown and buff with whitish underparts, and finally ending up as the blue-grey adult. The slender body, small head and long legs help in the identification of this bird.

The nest is the usual platform of sticks built on a ledge, or in a tree or bush. The clutch normally consists of two eggs, which hatch after 35 days. Sometimes one chick will eat the other - a phenomenon known as Cainism.

Taken from: Animals of the Kruger Park and Lowveld - Heritage Publishing.

I hope you enjoyed looking at this photo as much as I was thrilled in photographing it.

matatur, fiyo, rousettus, jaycee, Luis52, rcrick, CeltickRanger, Pentaxfriend, iris, Heaven, pvs, Mikolaj, albert, oanaotilia, eng55, SunToucher, nglen, spalaxtr, Noisette, bikefifty, boreocypriensis, tuslaw, erve, soundaryav, elif, anel, ellis49, Alex99, Aaltjie, Janice, bobair, SelenE has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To goutham_ramesh: ThanksMiss_Piggy 1 03-13 06:30
To ellis49: ThanksMiss_Piggy 1 03-05 05:12
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Critiques [Translate]

A fine capture of a majestic predator Anna, your low vantage point made the bird look bigger while your correct exposure and sharp take provided us with a highly detailed image. TFS it my friend!

  • Great 
  • fiyo Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1053 W: 5 N: 3475] (15161)
  • [2009-02-26 15:12]

Merhaba Anna,
POV,Netlik, arka fon ve renkler mükemmeldir. Pozlama da çok harikadır. Paylaşım için teşekkürler.

Hi Anna
a great shot for this beautiful raptor species. You captured it greatly on top of tree. Great timing and focus. Nicely composed. Thanks for sharing, best wishes

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  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2009-02-26 15:35]

Hi Anna,

The moral of the story is when you hear an interesting sound run out WITH your camera. You are so lucky this Hawk waited for you. A wonderful shot and just magnificent on top of your palm tree. I love the profile and wing positions. Beautiful colors and superb details. He really does look more like an Eagle than a Hawk. A beautiful blue sky and composition.


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  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2009-02-26 15:43]

Hola Anna.
Beautiful photo, excellent note. You were very lucky to see and take such a great image.
Niek should be very proud for this present, He deserves it.

Hi Anna,

Wow, this is a stunner, what a great shot. That early morning light has bathed the bird of prey with such a beautiful golden glow. Excellent sharpness, amazing colours and boy does it stand out against the perfect sky. Yeap I would be pretty pleased with this one, awesome shot 10/10 :)

hello Anna

a superb photography of this African Bird of Prey,
shot with fine frontal POV. also fine framing,
excellent luminosity of the image, great sharpness
and details of the African Harrier Hawk, his superb pose
brings dynamism to the image, and the catch-light
render always the photo more beautiful, TFS


Hi Anna,

Excellent colors, POV and sharpness
great details
Beautifull light and catchlight

TFS Thijs

Hello Anna
This is an awesome capture of this majestic looking Harrier.
A great POV,good exposure,colour & sharpness.
We have a similar Harrier here in New Zealand.
Very nice work.
TFS & cheers,

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  • iris Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 479 W: 60 N: 970] (3088)
  • [2009-02-26 20:35]

Hi Anna,
You are covering your learning curve fast and this one here is a good proof.You seem to be fully tuned to nature around even as you go about your chores of the day, ready to jump out- jump in -jump up -jump down- with your camera and the results show nicely.. each one just going up in scale and quality.With very less time at hand now, i am more or less in a suspended state to post and experiment further with my camera.There is such a long way to go(sigh)for me...

I love everything about this Harrier Hawk baby who decided to find a way to your home allowing you a fine opportunity.In thumbnail i thought there are two birds facing in 2 directions with open beaks.The light works wonders to highlight the bird with a good view of the ventral segment.The plumage is well detailed.The head and the eye is in good clarity and the open beak is the icing on the cake.The blue sky makes a fitting Bg to this juvenile who even as a baby exudes every bit the grand and imposing feature of the species it belongs to.

An absolute delight looking at this production and as always immensely enjoyed your notes.A dedication I am sure Niek would enjoy.
TFS & Cheers
1)What say you to the proposition i made earlier in the Rainbird comment;)

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  • Heaven Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 996 W: 123 N: 2341] (7912)
  • [2009-02-26 21:41]

Hi Anna!

It's somehow dangerous what you do! I mean, you spoil us with such a superb picture! We will get used to that!


I really believe what I say, it's a magnificent picture. I like it that much because it has the little undefinable extra that makes it an outstanding one. I tend to explain this "undefinable extra" as a mix of many positive ingredients: perfect lighting, colour management, sharpness and composition. In addition to that, a picture is good when it generates emotions, when the spectator spontaneously exclaims "Ohh" and is fascinated by what he sees. Your picture has that impact. Moreover, it's powerful and the Hawk's position and expression is so dynamic.

Kind regards


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  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2009-02-26 23:08]

What a beaut. Anna!
I love the pose, and the profile of the head.
The open beak, as in mid-cry, adds to the dynamic feel of the shot.
The light is beautiful, and I liked your story.
It reminded me of the time I heard hawks calling to each other...
with haunting shrieks that pierced the sky.
I will never forget that day. My dog was dying, and I was hysterical.
I was sobbing unconsolably, when I heard these shrieks above my house. I left my beloved dog's side to go outside and investigate. I saw these two hawks chasing each other in circles and shrieking to each other. I had never seen hawks flying near my house, let alone two of them... circling over my roof. I was stunned. Then all of a sudden, a calm came over me. Even though the thought of losing my dog was unbearable, I began to accept it, because deep in my heart, I was convinced that these hawks have come to escort his soul to the other side. It was the weirdest thing. I have never seen another hawk near my house again.

Your tribute to Niek is very appropriate. He is such a level-headed and fair-minded young man. More than once, I have noticed and admired the way he handled different situations that cropped up on TN. He has always shown himself to be open and reasonable, and a peace-maker par excellence. I add my compliments and respect to him. : )

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  • pvs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1127 W: 254 N: 3161] (14464)
  • [2009-02-26 23:09]

Hi Anna,

A great capture of this juvenile,I had to look again in the birdbooks as I have seen the adult birds as well a few times and I remember them as grey colored birds,but readin in the books and looking at your note I am convinced you have the proper ID,thanks to this appropiate dedication to Niek,


Hello Anna,
this is superb shot of bird's king!! Great pose, composition, details and vivid colors. I like it!

Best regards, Leonid

Hi Anna,
A nice capture of this beautiful African Harrier Hawk. Very well composed with sharp details. A nice dedication for Niek. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Hello Anna! Wonderful perspective, amazing POV. Ideal background. Perfect sharpness. Ideal natural colours. Good work. Well done!

Hello Anna,
Stunning light and colours, the composition is superb with the raptor being the continuation of the supporting branch !
Thanks for this very detailed note
Bravo, bravo and bravo

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  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2009-02-27 4:06]

Hi Anna,
Magnificent capture against blue sky.It seems statuesque.Exposure is spot on,details are crisp clear.I liked POV,lighting,pose of bird and composition a lot.Excellent work!
Thanks for posting.

Hy Anna
Impresive capture also very impresive bird! Standing inthe top of the tree, it seems more powerful and maybe, in my eyes, the little "emperor " over a large plain. Excellent details, i love the warm color of the plumage, and not in the last, the open beak.
Kind regards, Oana

hello Anna
this is a great picture
beautiful sharpness
Great details of the bird
nice composition
greeting lou

Hi Anna

An impressive bird of prey and a superb capture, I like a lot the textures of both the tree and the hawk. It looks majestic. They both jump to the eye against the clean crisp sky in the BG, Superb shot, thank you very much for sharing it.


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  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2009-02-27 8:42]

Wow, Anna,
What do I see here! This is amazing. Fantastic photo of this Gymnogene in a great pose, composition, sharpness and splendid clear colours. High quality!
Have a good weekend,

Hi Anna,
Although a bit late, I really, really appreciate this dedication to me. It is really wonderful to get this kind of reaction in writing and tranfered in a wonderful photo like this. I do hope that my participation in the recent forums have given clarity and less concern.

I like the pose of the hawk, with the wonderful clean and fresh details. The clean blue sky contrast perfectly with the warm colored feathers and brings out the details even more. It's surely a wonderful gift to this scenery so close to home.

Thank you!!!!


Hello Anna,
Beautiful shot of Kaalwangvalk with excellent details from low angle POV. I can feel the hot weather this bird is facing. I like your notes & a great dedication to Niek :)

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  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2009-02-27 12:28]

Hi Anna. This is a nice dedication to our friend and what a picture to do it with. You have taken this with first class detail and rich colours. A great POV looking up to the bird against the blue sky. well done TFS.

have a good weekend.

Hi Anna,
After a long break I am here again for some times. I visited some friends and saw that they upploaded a lot of beautiful photos. This one also very good. Details, light, smoot sky really ver good. TFS.

Hello Anna
what a wonderful point of view of this hawk, i like his pose on the top of the tree
beautiful colors and great contrast between the bird and the sky
greetings Jacqueline


Isn't life great. You just never know what is going to come your way. We learn not to be very far from our cameras. These shots may never come along again.

You have got a great shot here. The action of him calling and the movement of his wing make this a much better shot than if it was of him just sitting there.

I can't wait to see the mate in the conversation.


Hi Anna, a wonderful capture of this magnificent hawk in a lovely pose with fine details and sharpness.
TFS and have a nice WE!


Ps. please forward my best regards to Loot MF!

Ciao Anna, great capture of superb predator in majestic pose, fine details and splendid sharpness, wonderful blue sky, very well done, have a good week end, ciao Silvio

Witaj Aniu,
Beautiful profile. In first moment I thought that this was eagle. Picture is so miraculous that it is suitable on poster. Colours, sharpness and frame - super.
Pozdrawiam i garatuluje - Roma

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2009-02-28 18:46]

Congratulations!! Truly a beautiful bird Anna,
I'm glad you were able to capture such a wonderful image, and look forward to viewing your photo of the female in due time!!
The colors remind me of the Harrier Hawks we have here in the States. TFS.

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  • erve Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 96 W: 3 N: 131] (620)
  • [2009-03-01 4:00]

Hi anna,

Marvelous capture of this majestic bird. Sharpness and detail are excellent with perfectly saturated colours.
Im surprised how steady he seems to be on what looks like quite a flimsy perch, his left talon seems to be clutching just a twig.



Hi Anna,

Excellent picture...

Thanks for sharing!


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  • danar Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 57 W: 0 N: 17] (273)
  • [2009-03-02 15:21]

Hello Anna.

Very beautiful photo.
Excellent colours.
Very good details .
I really like it !

Best regards .

Merhaba Anna,
Wonderful perspective and excellent photo.
Thanks for sharing, best wishes

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  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2009-03-04 4:20]

Hello Anna,
You just had the best point of view for this bird of prey-picture. It almost looks like a sculpture! Very expressive pose and attitude, makes almost a "mythological" picture. I understand that you are proud of this shot.
Excellent and impressive shot.
Best regards

Hello Anna,
what a wonderful image of this Hawk taken from an excellent POV, the daring pose is fantastic against a blue sky, superb sharpness and bright colours; a very very beautiful capture.
Best regards.

Oh wow! What a really nice shot, Anna! And all this in your back yard? You are so fortunate to have these very special visitors!
I love the photo, well done, my friend!

Hallo Anna,
I'm sorry, I have missed this.
This ia very fine dedication to our great, helpful friend, Niek.
After I red your note, I understand you was thrilled that day,
some days are like that but they are very few.
This is a well exposed picture with lovely colours.
Good sharpness and lot of details.
A beautiful work, my friend.

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  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2009-03-07 1:43]

Hi Anna.
Once more fantastic shot from you. Many thanks for this presentation. Pictured scene at whole. Pose and state of mood of the bird are exceptional. Quality of the image is superb in all respects too. Ultimate sharpness and terrific details of the bird and branch. Sun lighting and blue sky cannot be more beautiful. My congratulations. This is my next favorite shot.

Dear Anna,
majestic capture, perfectly posed like a sculpture!
I admire the perfectly well chosen point of view, the intensely well shaping warm light, the image's powerfully condened intensity. Blue and gold in perfect contrast.
Great image! Great dedication to Niek!
With thanks, and all my best wishes,

Dear Anna
This is a great dedication to a chap whom I have come to respect for his stand in the forum when everybody else wanted to through their toys out of the cot. I myself wanted to write something about him and Lord Potty on the forum but decided to let go. They both tried very hard to relax everybody. This is a great story you have told us in your notes and you have the photographs to proof that. The colours in your image is stunning. The whole image all together is great work. The presentation is greatly done and remind me of a statue. This is really great photography. Thanks for great story telling as usual.
Best regards
Aaltjie and Hettie.

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  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2009-03-11 2:46]

I could feel your excitement as I read your notes Anna.

How wonderful to see these magnificent birds. And to capture this one so well.
Great shot, nice and sharp and that blue sky sure makes it look even better

Well done

Hi Anna,
it is nice to see a bird like this one as I have never seen one until now.I find the feathers standing out at the back of the bird's head rather fascinating as I have rarely hawks doing the same where I live.The photo looks good with a little loss of highlights and some softness because of resizing for upload but all else looks right as rain.The pose is classic hawk and it is a guess on my part,but was it yelling at you? Thanks for sharing. Bob

This picture has character:-). A well executed picture with a strong assertive subject is always a pleasure to watch :-).
The catch light, action of the wings, open beak , composition and lighting makes this a masterpiece.
Anna armed with a cybershot will make some of us with DSLR's feel weak with such wonderful pictures he he he.

Convey my regards old buddy Loot and ask him to write once in a while :-)

Hi Anna
Excellent composition, focus spot on, fantastis light

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  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2009-08-05 15:00]

Hallo Anna,
That's a beautiful raptor. I like the light and POV a lot.
All the best,

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  • Zeno Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 483 W: 0 N: 1345] (10867)
  • [2011-05-28 12:40]

Hi Anna,

This bird looks like a statue, very majestic. Excellent sharpness and impressing colors. TFS.


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