Red-shouldered Hawk with meal

Red-shouldered hawk with a snake meal at Centennial Lake. I was at Centennial on December 11 to photograph a long-tailed duck that had been there for two days. I did get shots of that particular duck three times while I was there and was wandering around the lake path for a good deal of my time there. I had run into several other photographers I knew and joined up with them to continue shooting the long-tailed (as it had moved from the boat launch to the end of the lake). A red-shouldered hawk had flown by us and perched up in a tree nearby. I got closer to it over the course of 25 minutes, to which it did not fly away despite me being right below it. I decided to shoot the great blue heron close by instead as I waited to see what the hawk would do.

The hawk eventually flew down into a pile of brush. I did not realize initially that it had a snake in its talons until it flew off with it. I attempted to approach it but it flew off into the woods. I searched for it down the path a ways with no luck. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to watch a hawk eat, I went back to where I initially saw the hawk and started to search again. I found it up in this particular tree not far from the brush pile. While I missed a few minutes of mealtime, I was able to stand here (with another photographer with a longer lens shooting a little bit behind me) for almost 30 minutes photographing it eating.

I had realized a little while later after the hawk had finished and I had left that part of the lake, I had lost my cap to my binoculars and went back to locate it. While I did find it, it gave me a chance to witness the same hawk grab another snake from the same area. When it flew off this time, I found it very close on a fallen tree nearby. I caught up with it when it flew off again later but did not have a great view like I did with this first set. Another birder had pointed out to me there was most likely a snake nest in that brush.

Lens - Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD @ 300mm on Nikon D5500