Swainson’s hawk with bats by ari1982

During my trip to New Mexico back in September, I spent some time photographing Swainson’s hawks at a bat cave. Every evening, millions of bats come out of this cave in pursuit of insects at a lake nearby, the flock of flying bats paints a dark trail in the sky stretching for miles as far as the eye can see. Swaison’s hawks approach from above diving at bats. The bats can only detect what’s in front of them by echo (they can’t quite see) so the hawks can easily snatch them from behind. Each hawk consumes tens of bats in flight until it is full. Photographing at this location was extremely challenging as the bats came out minutes before the sunset and with thick clouds in the sky, I started shooting at ISO 5000 and after a few minutes I was at ISO 50,000!, Almost like shooting flight shots at night. I was surprised my camera was even locking focus in such low light. Predictably, keepers were few. Nevertheless, this was an impressive sight and an experience like nothing else.

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