Those of you who have been following my blog have been enjoying a series of “where-to” articles on some of the Valley’s Photo Hot Spots, both private and public. I recently had the pleasure of returning to The Martin Refuge to spend a morning at their raptor blind. For the earlier review I wrote on the Martin Refuge, see my August 2011 archive.
I was joined by two good shooting friends, Hector Astorga and Dr. Beto Gutierrez. We met fellow photography friend and Martin Refuge guide, Patty Raney, at the ranch gate at 7:30am. After a few minutes chatting, we setup our gear in the blind, set out some chicken quarters and waited. Two very inquisitive roadrunners provided us with some great photo opportunities and a little entertainment (more on them later).
It didn’t take long for the first Crested Caracara to arrive and once the first one landed, at least a dozen more flew in, landed, flew away, constantly repeating this process over the next 3 hours. While 3-4 were feasting on the ground, a couple more were perched, and others were circling, waiting to land on the occupied perches. This started at approximately 8:00am and the action was non-stop until we decided to call it a morning at about 11:00am. Although the Caracara were still there when we left, the light had become harsh and our group had plans to shoot at the Santa Clara in the afternoon.
Back to the roadrunners, at one point there were probably 12 Caracara on the ground and apparently these two roadrunners were none to pleased with the idea that their territory was being invaded. They fluffed their feathers, flapped their beaks profusely and did their best to stare down these intruders, often successfully (if only temporarily) chasing them away. It was quite comical.
While we mostly saw Caracara, we were also able to photograph Harris’ Hawk. I’ve done a lot of shooting on some of the Valley’s best ranches and I have to give credit where it is due. This was by far the best raptor experience I have ever had. The Martin Refuge has a gem of a raptor blind. For those interested in photographing Crested Caracara and Harris’ Hawk, contact Patty Raney at 956-330-5316 (cellular). Below is a sample of more images from the morning’s action at the Martin Refuge Raptor Blind…OMG!