A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Airport


Boy, I bet you’re curious after that title, ain’t ya?  Well, I just gotta get your attention, one way or another.

First, I have a few new images to show you.  Several birds and more, and some of them even co-operated this morning.

Red-tailed Hawk in tree

Red-tailed Hawk in tree

This Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) was across the river about 200 yards away.  I didn’t think I had a prayer of getting a usable photo, but as you can see, I was wrong.  I pulled my vehicle close to the river bank and turned off the engine.  Any small vibration can throw the focus off on long shots.  I used my 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter on my Canon EOS 7d for the shot.  I steadied the set-up on my side window and made the shot.  The image was severely cropped.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

We also spotted this Ruby-crowned Kinglet, (Regulus calendula).  He was more in the open than the one that I photographed a few days ago.  Today he was in a ‘leaf-less tree’, one that lost it’s leaves for the winter.  Pretty high off of the ground, but still made a decent photograph.

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson’s Snipe

Later as we crept along a shallow area, inches from the edge, I spotted this Wilson’s Snipe, (Gallinaga delicata), laying at the edge of the water.  He sensed our presence and froze in position, thinking, and rightly so, that he was camoflaged enough to make himself invisible.  He was only about 7 inches long and was very difficult to spot.  A cute little fellow.

C-17 Globemaster III

C-17 Globemaster III

During our birding tour a fairly large bird, was making practice approaches to the nearby Mathis Field airport.  It turned out to be a C-117 Globemaster III, (Aeroplanus gigantus), one of the largest aircraft in the United State Air Force inventory.  I decided to see if I could get a meaningful photograph of it.  We decided to head to the airport to see what I could come up with.  I stationed ourselves near a ditch at the end of the runway, on Knickerbocker Road.  I wanted to get the aircraft just as it went directly overhead, just before it touched down.  Wow!!  What an experience.  In the viewfinder, it looked like it was right on me.  I stayed with it and fired off a sequence of photos.  Then I ducked!!  Of course, it was probably only 50 feet over my head, but it certainly felt closer.  I hope you like the image.  I like the way the camera exposed the clouds behind the plane and darkened the sky above.

Click on any image to see an enlargement.

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42 thoughts on “A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Airport

  1. Love the snipe, Bob. I haven’t had a lot of experience with them but when I have I’ve been amazed by just how fast they can take off when they don’t even look like they’re considering doing so. That’s one impressive shot of the C-17 too.

  2. Love the “aeroplanus gigantus”. I have been so busy that I am only taking a quick look at the blogs and not making comments but want to tell you that I am enjoying them. Those are good shots especially the Red tailed hawk so far away. I don’t know if the Wilson’s makes the same sound with his wing feathers as the common Snipe but I love that sound.

    • Thanks for your comment, Jane. I’m glad you enjoy my wry humor. Incidentally, the name of the snipe differs depending which book you look at. It seems that the Wilson’s and the Common are one and the same, although one up in the Alaska area is sometimes referred at an Eurasian, with some feathers that are a bit of a different color, but they (the feathers) are seldom seen. I have about 6-7 books and they have different opinions. Weird. Anyway, yes their wings do have a distinct sound when the fly off.

  3. (Aeroplanus gigantus) – you are so punny!! However, it should be an official designation for that beautiful bird. What an amazing photo. My husband and I would spend hours at the end of one runway or another watching the planes take off and land. That was lots of fun. The little Snipe and the hawk and another kinglet just made your day and mine. Thanks for a fun post. hugs

    • Thanks, Beth. You may be the only person that caught that little funny. I have been an aircraft buff since I was a kid. My brothers and I did the same thing that you described doing with your husband. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. Excellent shots, I especially love the plane. My kid brother is retired Air Force, as a load master, still works on base after his retirement from active service. His son, my nephew, is also Air Force, currently stationed in Japan.

    • I was Air Force, too, many years ago. My unit was the one that got the very first operational C-130 Hercules. I was on the flight line and got a photo as it landed, coming in from the factory.

      • Getting one of the first photos must have been quite the thrill! My dad was Air Force as well, He did one hitch between WWII and the Korean War. He was stationed in Texas and never had a good thing to say about it. One of the few times my dad was wrong. 😉

  5. Nice assortment of photos, Bob. I really enjoyed them. That shot of the hawk was outstanding. Great photography for such a distance.

    I also really like the shot of C-17. A year and a half ago, my daughter transferred from Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo to Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, AK. She is Flight Surgeon on a C-130 Hercules, and your photo reminded me of her plane. Except, of course, that she and her crew are proud of their prop plane and claim that propellers sound so much better than jets like those on the C-17.

  6. Amazing shot of the plane. You managed to make it beautiful as well. 🙂 The hawk photo is so crisp. Impressive from that distance. Great shot of the snipe. Their camo is darn good isn’t it?

  7. Bravo! That must have been exhilarating. My brother used to nav C-114’s. He got some great shots at fighter craft down the boom. Awesome stuff, those aircraft.

    You’ve been having more good days than bad, it seems. This warmer weather is making it easier on everyone. Just wait til summer…

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