Austin Thomas is a UK-based wildlife photographer whose work you may recognize from BBC Wildlife Magazine. Though he has a keen eye for capturing compelling images of all manner of fauna from cheetahs to crabs, some of his most stunning work features birds of prey…on the ground. Whereas most photographs of hawks, kestrels, owls, etc. feature those powerful birds soaring overhead or diving through the air, Austin has elected to photograph many of these animals running along the substrate. The result is uncanny.
You just don’t expect to see a kestrel charging headlong at you; eyes fixed and talons spread. You don’t expect to see an owl jaunting about as though out for a stroll. Nearly every image I’ve seen of a grounded bird of prey features a static bird (typically standing, victorious, over captured prey) but Austin reminds us that these animals can be as captivating and dynamic on terra firma as they are in the sky. With images like these, it’s easy to appreciate the scientific consensus that birds are extant dinosaurs (evolving from earlier maniraptoran theropods); that there really are dinosaurs still among us in the form of these animals. Suddenly, instead of a kestrel, you really do see a raptor.
You can see a collection of Austin’s magnificent running bird photos below, but please feel free to head over to Austin’s website to see more of his great work.