Hunting with a Barn owl at dusk

Scouting over Boundary Bay - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Boundary Bay is lovely throughout the year.  Early spring along the levee that runs parallel to the tidal flats, driftwood piles and grassy fields is not an exception.  When we were there last weekend, the rain rolled in as we were watching Snowy owls scattered across the grassland which did contribute to a beautiful scene a couple of hours later.  At the time, it set the owls in their poses as they hunkered down through the showers.

Snowy owl and the heavy rain - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Jack and I waited for the weather to change so that the owls may take to the air.  Dusk was quickly approaching and we had hopes that these raptors would start hunting.  The rain increased and we walked back along the dyke towards the parking lot a couple of kilometers away.  As the car came into view, the rain lessened and when I was at the trailhead, the sun had even hazarded a couple looks under the clouds.  The evening light was beautiful though very soft as it was filtered by the clouds and water vapour in the sky.  A rainbow over the water drew my attention out over the flats and that’s where I first saw a distant bird flying low over the marshes.

After the rain in Boundary Bay 2013 © Christopher Martin

I followed it through the gloom and as it moved closer and into the sunlight, I was able to identify it as a Barn owl (Tyto alba).  This was my first sight of one of these owls in the wild and I fell in love immediately.

First encounter - 2013 © Christopher Martin

They have a chaotic flight pattern where they swoop along and then dive with great conviction downwards at crazy angles when they find a target.  It crisscrossed a large area for about half an hour and all I could have wished for was a bit more light.

Curious Barn owl on a flyby - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Dusk was well entrenched by this time and I was pushing the camera’s ISO and autofocus hard.  The owl was curious too and swooped by on two separate occasions.  The whole time spent watching this bird was a great experience and I’m looking forward to my next encounter with one of these beautiful owls.

In flight - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Barn owl flight over Boundary Bay - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Night flight - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I could still make out the silhouette as it flew further away but my attention was pulled in a new direction by a Short-eared owl that circled by for a couple of minutes and then a Snowy which, freed from its perch by the calm weather, landed on a pile of waterlogged wood less than a stone’s throw away.  I hope to share some of those photographs soon.


19 responses

  1. Pingback: After dark in Boundary Bay | Christopher Martin Photography

  2. Excellent photgraphy! I really look forward to see more of your fine work in the future. I’m your new follower. 🙂
    Greetings from the Far North

    April 1, 2013 at 6:10 pm

  3. elmediat

    One runs out of superlatives to describe these shots of birds in flight. Remarkable creatures & tremendous compositions. 🙂

    March 26, 2013 at 11:41 am

  4. Breathtaking!

    March 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm

  5. Pingback: An afternoon with a Snowy owl | Christopher Martin Photography

  6. Amazing pics, really liked the 2nd pic 🙂

    March 23, 2013 at 12:45 am

  7. Absolutely wonderful photos.

    March 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm

  8. Great pictures! The landscape shot is captivating.

    March 22, 2013 at 10:03 am

  9. My favorite Bird!
    Thank you for shearing these!!

    March 21, 2013 at 9:24 pm

  10. WOW!! Stunning photography!

    March 21, 2013 at 9:17 pm

  11. Just wonderful and amazing – I sit here with open mouth .. 😀 – Thanks for sharing

    March 21, 2013 at 7:52 pm

  12. Absolutely awesome photos!!!!!!

    March 21, 2013 at 7:13 pm

  13. Lucky you! Great photos, I would love to see a barn owl in the wild.Nice warm glow, especially in the one with the rainbows.

    March 21, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    • I hope you get to see one Jane. Their flying style is amazing to watch.

      March 23, 2013 at 4:20 pm

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