Now that the orchard is closed for the season we are getting back to doing some long overdue farming. One of the "to do" items on our list is mowing some of the overgrown fields were our apiary is located. I just finished making three passes with the mower and noticed a small animal running just off the left front tire of the tractor. I looked closely to see if it was a field mouse or a vole. Mice do some damage to young apple trees but voles do much more and can kill new plantings. Over my shoulder a shadow formed and instantly a red-tail hawk landed and took off with its prey in its claws. This happened just a few feet from the front of the tractor. I stopped and watched it feed on the rodent in a nearby tree and tried taking some images with the cheap camera on my phone.
Not to belabor the story but in the three hours of mowing this occurred six more times. Because the cleared area kept getting larger each of the other times the hawk was much further away from me when it picked up its meal.
After the fifth rodent the hawk became a little more trusting and perched very close to were I was mowing, resting on top of a tree stake. The hawks claws are wrapped around the circumference of the round stake about six inches down from the top with the hawks chest resting on the top of the stake. From this position the hawk launched itself for the last two rodents of our partnership. The stake is only about eight feet off the ground and the hawk just pushed off and glided to its prey without a wing beat. Very cool. I have one more mowing chore and I hope my new friend stops by for a meal.