Monday, April 13, 2009

An Easter Hunt: Part 2, Three Owl Night

I love owls.
Maybe it is the opportunities that I have had to work closely with them at the Birds of Prey recovery center. Maybe it is the fact that they are the silent assassins of the night sky, that hit their prey before it can sense them coming.

Or then maybe it is that looking at this

to pick out this

requires that you respect their phenomenal camouflage adaptation.

Here is a shot of the same Great Horned Owl, after I had worked my way down and back from a different angle, getting a soft background that made the camo less efficient:

The owl was maybe ten yards off the trail when I spotted him, and didn't seem to bothered by the human who was moving around in the area off the regular path. I was fortunate that there was a utility yard with a chain link fence for snow plows and road repair just off the trail. I hugged the fence, and was able to move along it far enough to get clear of most of the brush without spooking him. I guess there is enough regular activity inside the yard that the motion along it is not considered threatening. I also know that owls will sometimes remain still when they feel threatened relying on their colors to blend them into the background rather than revealing their position trying to escape.
In this case I do not think I was considered a threat because the owl spent the majority of the time checking back along the creek and trail. It also did not show any signs of panting, an action that owls display when they are stressed.

In my previous post I noted that I had reached what I believed to be the eastern edge of the trail system on my walk. When I got to the far end I had to cross the road and scan the trees that lay beyond. Just as I crossed I spotted another owl silently flying to a new perch on a tree further back. Owls are like Easter Jelly Bean Eggs, once you have had one, you keep looking for more. I saw the one above in flight. The owl was definitely moving to put more vegetation between itself and me. I am sure that the lack of trail in that area made its resident much less habitualized to human presence. I would have never seen this one if it had relocated successfully without my notice. Even having seen it, and knowing generally where it was I still had to look through my camera lens for several minutes before I could locate it.
I returned on the same trail to find that the original Great-Horned had relocated to a more visible perch in the same area where I had left him.

I once again slid along the fence and was able to get a good series of shots. Eventually he did tire of my antics, and flew off. He went all of 15 feet and landed in a tree just on the other side of and immediately above the trail. Not wanting to be any more of a disturbance I walked past staying to the far side of the trail and looking from the corner of my eye rather than turning face on to him. I did turn to get a few more shots after I had passed.

Just a spectacular bird to see in the wild, but be warned - find one and you will be checking trees from then on to see which owls you have been missing!

No comments:

Post a Comment