Saturday, March 12, 2011

Owl Woods • March 12

After a productive hike in Oatka in the morning (I haven't worked on those pictures, yet), I had brunch at my favorite coffee shop, Jitters, and then headed to Owl Woods. As I passed Braddock Bay and Salmon Creek where I usually kayak, I was kicking myself because the water was filled with birds, and I didn't have my spotting scope. (Mental note: Bring my spotting scope *all* the time from now on.) Anyway, I made it to Owl Woods and headed off looking for owls. Being fruitless most of the way around the loop, I ran into Nancy Widger, and asked the typical birder question, "Have you seen anything?" Casually, she said yes, there was a Long-eared Owl just a few feet away. I politely asked if Nancy would show me and she agreed. I would have never found it, between its camouflaged and my inexperience with finding owls. We had a nice chat in which she pointed out this particular owl was nervous and had moved a number of times due to the neighboring gunfire from hunters hunting crows. More conversation and it turns out we both worked at Kodak for many years in the same buildings, though not necessarily at the same time. She then told me she looks for owls at Owl Woods practically every day, and last year had about 30 Northern Saw-whet Owl and 30 Long-eared Owl sightings! Finally, I asked her when is the best time of the day to go to Owl Woods and she said there really isn't any. It's fairly random when the owls will be there, be it morning, noon, or afternoon. Without further ado, here are the pictures!

Click the pictures for larger versions!

When we first spotted the owl, this was the perspective. Don't be fooled by my 840 mm equivalent lens! We were quite far away and there was *a lot* of foliage in the way to hide the owl. This is like a shot through a soda straw.

I very carefully creep through the trees, keeping as much distance as I could between me and owl, in order to get free of some of the obscuring foliage. I am still quite some distance away, but free of most of the worst obscurations! This picture is my new computer desktop picture. :-)

This is another shot taken from the previous location with maximum zoom and cropping to emphasize those magnificent eyes!