The Ring Necked Pheasant

Last night as the sun was setting, the winds were strong at Jones Beach. In my experience, high wind normally reduces the amount of bird photography opportunities. Nevertheless, I decided to try my luck. I was hoping to see a raptor of some kind. Hawks, Falcons, Northern Harriers, and Kestrals are all native to this area.

I searched a few of the spots that have been successful in the past, but it was not meant to be. The winds were simply too strong. I was somewhat disappointed, and started the drive home. All of the sudden, I noticed this odd bird on the shoulder of the road. At first, from a distance, I thought it was some kind of Mallard. As I got closer I could see it clearly was a special bird. My wife immediately knew what it was without even checking her field guide. It is a male Ring Necked Pheasant.

I pulled over and turned the car off, grabbed the 400mm and tried to get into position but he ran into the brush. I then drove in reverse and parked on the shoulder, turned the car off, and waited. Sure enough, he came back out. I used the car as a blind. It's funny how the Pheasant was terrified of me on foot, but had no issues with a blue Nissan acting as a bird blind. I opened the door a crack and rested the lens in the wedge for stability.

While we were watching him, two hawks flew by. The Pheasant thought he was about to be hunted, and crouched down to make himself appear smaller. I readied a new memory card as I thought there was about to be an attack. A tense moment passed, and the Pheasant was very still as the raptors passed by. He appeared to be out of danger, but retreated to the safety of the brush just to be sure.