I have loved photographing one old, weathered tractor for years. It sits in a field that is home to horses now and I think it has been enjoying its retirement there for many years before I ever found it.
For the first time, I met the gentleman who owns this tractor, the horses and the land this past weekend. We had a pleasant conversation while we enjoyed watching this Great gray owl hunting along his fence line. Peter was very familiar with this owl and it was great to learn some new things about it.
Shortly after he left, the owl flew off the fence line and into a stand of trees near the tractor. I set up for a dive I hoped would come but was very happy when the next flight was not into the grass but over to the steering wheel on this much admired, at least to me, tractor.
From this perch, the owl’s glowing eyes scanned the surrounding grass.
After a few minutes it hunched down, signalling that it may fly. It paused for a couple of seconds and then launched.
This bird is an excellent hunter so it was no surprise that the strike was successful. As they like to do, after the pounce the owl looked around to check his surroundings as they are vulnerable when down on the ground. It stared at me to check that I hadn’t made any moves or movements that signalled a change in my intent.
It swallowed the mouse on the ground and then flew back to the same perch on the tractor.
It idled on the wheel for a couple of minutes, preoccupied for a moment with something it noticed in the sky above, before heading into the trees. These were the trees where I had gone into when I was photographing him on the tractor so I had a front row seat to the forest hunt and three different perches before he flew uphill and out of sight.
A golden owl… or rather a Great gray owl in soft, golden morning light. This owl had swallowed a mouse a few moments before and here she was readying her jump into the air. The single downstroke of these broad wings being enough to get her airborne.
At some time in the middle of night, clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped. This morning there was a couple of inches of heavy, wet snow covering Bragg Creek. I drove and walked along a couple of the country roads in West Bragg to photograph the landscape after what should be a short visit by the winter spirits.
I was out early on two consecutive mornings to greet the Great gray owls as they continued their hunting. After dawn breaks, and before the sun gets too high, they often catch a couple more field mice and then retire to their nests for the day. This owl was working the same area at the same time both days. There was no trouble catching the rodents so it seemed like great hunting grounds which may explain the repeat efforts. The second day the owl flew into shafts of sunlight which added to the quality of the images.
After owling (and here) in the evening I went into Calgary for dinner and when I was close to Redwood Meadows found the Aurora Borealis were dancing to the north. The lights were partially hidden behind a large cloud bank which was an unusual sight for me that were impressive as they glowed above the fields.
After hunting in the forest for a while, the owl flew to the edge of the tree line and operated from the fenceposts there. He snagged two field mice within a couple of minutes, consuming one in the grass and one on a post. He then flew deep into the woods. Possibly to share with its mate or to continue hunting in another area.