Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More Aesthetics: Hawk Glimpsing

I sometimes wonder if hawk “watching” isn’t a somewhat misleading label for our observation of the raptor migration. It’s often more a matter of hawk “glimpsing.”

Granted, often we have an opportunity to “watch” an eagle approach our observation sites in a leisurely soar, over at least several minutes. More frequently, however, hawk “glimpsers” have only a second or two to find, observe, identify and enjoy a migrating raptor, the quintessentially “glimpsed” raptor being a Merlin or Peregrine Falcon slashing aggressively through space and time. Even observing a majestically soaring eagle, although not so electrifyingly quick an experience as catching a glimpse of a Merlin or Peregrine Falcon, is definitely a passing experience, something that can only be possessed briefly.

This very ephemeral nature of observing migrating raptors contributes significantly, I think, to the aesthetics of the activity, giving it a kind of “Wow!” factor that’s dramatically contrary to the overly programmed, controlled and predictable nature of most people’s everyday experiences. I like the photographs of raptors taken by my colleagues, but the photographs, as amazing as they often are, differ radically in effect from the fleeting apprehension of a migrating falcon, hawk or eagle. A photograph makes permanent, in a way, the moment of connectedness with something wild, but in so doing contradicts the quickness of that moment. That’s one of the reasons we don’t just stay home and look at pictures but go out to our observation sites hoping for the jolt of pleasure a brief connection with the raptors and with the migration, that great global movement of wildlife, can provide.

1 comment:

  1. Gil, I love the "wow" views of hawkwatching, but find as I get older that my days of "blue sky hawkwatching" are less enjoyable. Seeing dots or even dots with wings doesn't grab me. But when the skies are cloudy or the hour is early (or late) I love the excitement of it. Sometimes I think it must be like an addiction. I'm always looking for the next "big win."