On Friday, 12-10-21, I went out looking for some owls. It was just beginning to snow when I went out. It continued to snow the next four hours that I was in the woods.
I spotted one of the Great Horned Owls flying about 40 yards away from me after about 40 minutes into my walk. I couldn’t see where it went, but I continued walking in the direction I was already headed because there are two GHO in this area.
Once I finished searching this general area I didn’t find either Great Horned Owls so my guess was the one I saw flying must have flew across the marsh to another area.
The snow was still coming down harder. Forty minutes after I saw the GHO I found the Barred Owl hiding behind a bunch of Ironwood leaves. He blended in nicely with his surroundings. I dropped my backpack in the snow and got my camera and lens out. Since I’m very familiar with Benny the Barred Owl (his new name), I knew he wouldn’t get excited if I took my time and walked around to find the best angle before setting up my tripod.
I photograph with a 500mm f/4 lens and I usually have my 1.4x teleconverter already on my camera (Nikon D6). This is what I usually photograph the Great Horned Owls with because I’m normally a little further away from them and they usually hang out a little higher in the tree than the Barred Owl. Photographing the Barred Owl I typically use only the 500 mm lens. Walking around the immediate area I took some shots from some different angles. I found a spot that would work with the tripod, so I walked back to the backpack and got the tripod and took off the teleconverter. I walked over and set up the tripod. This worked for taking photographs, but I was still too close for video and I had no more room to back up because of a tree. If I moved to either side there would be unwanted branches in the way.
Benny the Barred Owl was content on snoozing, but every once in a while he would become very alert and whip his head around to the sound of any potential meal. I watched him as he quickly moved his head to the left and this time he was zeroed in on his meal. While I had the video going he flew from his perch down to the ground. I couldn’t see exactly where he was so I grabbed the camera off the tripod to see if I could see him. He was on the ground for several seconds before I finally located him. He looked in my direction and I saw a mouse/vole hanging from his mouth. I was able to get a photograph of him on the ground, but not with his meal in his mouth. He flew up to another tree close by where he stayed awake and was actively hunting most of the time until I left him at 1630 hrs. I spent 2 1/2 hours with him. When he wasn’t actually listening for his next meal he was grooming himself and doing some general stretches. It always interesting watching the owls spin their heads back and forth in almost a complete circle going faster and faster. I included some photos.
Here are my photos and I’ll probably do a video of my time spent with him…