A Lemont man’s photo of a steely eyed red-tailed hawk eyeing potential prey won June’s portion of the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s Preserve the Moment photo contest.

Robert Schwaan snapped the winning shot 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 background leaves. Schwaan said he was expecting to see songbirds at Veterans Woods during his photo exploration, but instead he discovered two hawks eyeing a gray squirrel. As both hawks assumed a “strike position,” the squirrel jumped to the ground and hid under some brush and the hawks flew away.

Schwaan 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,” he said. Schwaan also organizes outdoor excursions for his friends, family and hiking clubs, so he said 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, Flickr.com/WillCoForests. The photo contest runs through Dec. 31. Winners are chosen monthly and overall contest honors will be awarded via online voting in January via the Forest Preserve’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/WillCoForests. Visa gift cards will be awarded for the top three finishers in the overall contest in these amounts: First place, $500; second place, $250; and third place, $150. And monthly winners each receive a $75 Visa gift card. For more contest information and rules, visit ReconnectWithNature.org. The contest is sponsored by The Nature Foundation of Will County.