Water Valley is a lushly forested area broken up with farm fields, hills and streams. Any one of these can attract owls so it is little surprise that many are seen in the locales between Cremona and Cochrane. I drove along Horse Creek Road and the Grand Valley Road a few days ago to enjoy the countryside as well as see what wildlife I might find. Near Cremona I found a Gray watching the grass in the front yard of a ranch from one of the fence posts.
By that time it was early evening so I set up my gear on the shoulder of the road and waited to see if the owl might start hunting. It looked at me languidly a few times and I thought that might be the all there was to this sighting when it flew into the trees. I was wrong. It stayed in the woods for a few minutes and then came back to the fence again.
A minute later, it flew to a new post about 30′ from where I was sitting.
From that point the owl started hunting and remained less than 100′ away for the next hour. It proved to be adept at attacks into the long grass and grabbed five mice over that period. The strikes onto the field creatures were impossible to photograph as the talons and head of the owl would disappear completely into a screen of pale yellow.
That was only a very minor disappointment, being able to watch this master hunter at work was very enjoyable.
I had great opportunities to photograph the owl flying before night took hold. In the image below it was quite dark so I needed a longer exposure to gather enough light.
Just as I decided to pack up and head home, a car came down the road and I snapped this last image with the help of the headlights.