A Lemont man's photo of a steely eyed red-tailed hawk eyeing potential prey won June's portion of the Preserve the Moment photo contest.
The winning shot was snapped by Robert Schwaan at Veterans Woods in Romeoville. The judges were impressed with how the photo captured the bird's piercing gaze and ruffled feathers, as well as the play of light through the leaves behind it.
Schwaan said he was expecting to see songbirds at Veterans Woods during his photography exploration.
"To my surprise, I saw two juvenile red-tailed hawks frolicking about on the ground at the woodland's edge. Some movement low on an oak tree caught the attention of the hawks. They both flew to positions on oak tree branches on each side of a gray squirrel below. I watched for several minutes as both hawks observed their prey."
Schwaan said he wondered if the hawks were "competing or collaborating." But he would never find out because as both hawks assumed a "strike position," the squirrel jumped to the ground and hid under some brush and the hawks flew away in separate directions. But the wildlife memory – and photo – were recorded by Schwaan, who loves his outdoor adventures.
Schwaan said he has been visiting the preserves since the 1990s.
"Due to land acquisitions and trail improvements by the District over the years, I have been able to increase the frequency of my many excellent adventures involving fishing, canoeing, bicycling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking and, of course, photography."
Schwaan said he organizes outdoor excursions for his friends, family and hiking clubs, so winning the June portion of the photo contest can only improve his "trail cred."
Honorable mentions for the month were awarded to:
Eileen Capodice of Minooka for her photo of a woodchuck chomping on a leaf at McKinley Woods.
Michelle Wendling of Joliet for her shot of a massive oak in the mist at Hickory Creek Preserve.
Rick Micka of Joliet for a picture of an alert fawn surrounded by lush greenery at Rock Run Preserve.
Greg Johnson of Bolingbrook for his snapshot of an immature female eastern forktail damselfly stretched out on a leaf at Isle a la Cache.
All of the contest's photo entries can be viewed on the District's Flickr page.
Schwaan’s photo will compete with eight other monthly finalists for overall honors after the contest concludes on December 31.
Contest participants may enter up to five digital photos per month. All photos must be uploaded via the District’s contest upload page. Be sure to fill out all of the required categories, including the date and location the photo was taken.
SUBMIT YOUR PHOTOS NOW
Photos must be taken by amateur photographers age 18 or older, and they must be snapped in a Will County forest preserve during the contest period, which began April 1. For instance, pictures taken at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, which is owned by the U.S. Forest Service, and Pilcher Park, which is a City of Joliet park, will not qualify for the contest.
For a list of all Forest Preserve locations, check out the District's preserve page and be sure to read the contest rules before entering. Entries not adhering to the rules will automatically be disqualified.
The Preserve the Moment photo contest is sponsored by The Nature Foundation of Will County.