A Stranger from the North, Kodakery, September 1919
GAZING out across the Rancocas from our veranda in the early morning, we noticed a big grey hawk. Perched upon a high mossy stump, and silhouetted against the glory of the rising sun, he presented a very beautiful picture.
"He doesn't look like any hawk I ever saw before," quoth Marie, gazing at him through her binoculars.
"I wonder if, by any chance, his breast plumage resembles that of a guinea hen," I asked, making a long guess.
Marie's glasses remained levelled for several moments; then came the news, and good news it was: "You're right, partner mine; he's a goshawk!"
This most destructive of all hawks is very rare in New Jersey, his home being in the northland; therefore, his portrait is a thing greatly to be desired.
'Kill-dee! Kill-dee! Kill-dee!" sounded above our heads and a flock of killdeer plover scudded by. The mossy stump was vacant now, while above the plovers hung a cruel shape that pitched and darted in unison with the terrified birds. As we gazed spellbound at the unique spectacle, a grey streak dashed into the flock and out again, and now there was something in the big hawk's talons-something that fluttered frantically to escape. The tiger of the air had made his kill. Screaming his defiance, he circled back to the stump where he came to rest and began tearing ferociously at his prey.
"He seems to like that stump rather well!" I exclaimed excitedly, scenting a wonderful picture to come. "Furthermore, I have a hunch he'll use it as a watch tower for a while. Do you think we can photograph him there?" "We can try, partner mine," came the enthusiastic answer.
We waited until the villain had finished his breakfast and winged his way down stream, then we started to erect our studio. First, we drove a stake into the ground and clamped our Premo long focus camera to it by means of the Eastman Universal Clamp. Then the camera was focused carefully upon the stump and shutter set at 1/25 second. We did not expect our prospective subject back until late afternoon, so we made due allowance for light conditions at that time. Last of all, the outfit was camouflaged with brush, and a thread run from shutter trip to the veranda rail one hundred yards away.
Marie, in the couch hammock, was deep in Curwood, her favorite author, while I napped in a steamer chair. A distant factory whistle sounding its five o'clock closing call awoke me, and I glanced casually in the direction of the stump—Sir Goshawk had returned. Stepping quietly to the veranda rail, I pulled steadily upon the thread.
"We've got him, honey!" I cried exultantly, and we had.
Written and photographed by Howard Taylor Middleton.
Originally published in Kodakery, September 1919.
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