Monday, June 15, 2015

Harriet Watching and Waiting

(c) John Ashley
Harriet on her nest, watching and waiting for a new mate

Harriet is Montana's internet sensation. She also happens to be an osprey. Her nest stands high above a horse corral at the Dunrovin Ranch in Lolo, and a live web camera shares Harriet's daily trials and triumphs with fans around the world. Like last summer when her mate was killed by a bald eagle, and this spring when she waited alone on her nest for a new male to arrive and win her over.

It was during this period when I showed up with my camera, while people around the planet anxiously wondered if Harriet would find a new mate. The universal themes of watching and waiting told Harriet's story, and I tried to illustrate this by silhouetting her with the star that measures and counts our days.

The world watched me from the ranch cam
I knew how to capture the image I saw in my mind's eye. What I didn't know was that, in addition to a few horses, people around the world were watching me from a second camera as I pointed a 500mm lens straight into the sun. The Dunrovin chat room lit up with questions about this crazy guy. But what they didn't know was that an astronomer's solar filter covered the front of my lens and protected my eyes. This filter only allows 1/100,000 of the sunlight to pass. I could only see darkness or sun, so I followed Harriet's shadow on its arc across the corral, and the horses would stop by from time to time to check on me.

Eventually, I captured the story-telling image I was hoping for -- Harriet watching and waiting from her nest. The photo is featured in this month's "Distinctly Montana" magazine, along with a nice article written by Suzanne Miller.

The story continues. Harriet finally found a new mate, Hal, and they're currently incubating a single egg. You can find Harriet and Hal's web cam at, and follow the news on their Facebook page, "Dunrovin Birds."