I spent a bit of time with a great gray owl last week. It was later in the evening and it seemed to be looking for a last snack before dark.
I watched it crisscross a meadow of tall grass and make several dives out of sight. It came up without a catch on those.
Apparently, it felt like a change of location was required. Crossing the road she landed on a couple of old fenceposts and stared hard into the adjacent little fields but didn’t find a target worth chasing.
Success came when she flew out of a tall tree she had spent a few minutes surveying from. When she launched, it was a drop to just above the grass and then a sudden drop.
She swallowed while low in the grass and then rose out and flew towards me before alighting on a post right beside me. A couple of minutes later she went across another field and out of sight.
We had two wonderful encounters with great gray owls yesterday. The highlight for me came when the second owl flew across the field to a tall post about 30′ away. I took some good flight shots there. Then he glided down and landed 2′ away on a fence post beside me. When he was there, it was incredible to share the space. Being that close I was awed by the power and wisdom that I felt from him.
He stayed there for around 10 minutes before I moved further down the fence. The wind picked up as the clouds covered the sun. The owl remained focused on finding dinner in the long grass but after several more minutes, with his feathers whipping around, he flew off into the trees.
This great gray owl dove at something in the hillside grasses behind this sign. I wasn’t in a good position for that attack but I was when it returned to the sign post it was hunting from.
In mid-April, snow fell regularly. The robins had arrived earlier in the month and I wasn’t sure how they would feel about the weather. One afternoon, I photographed this one for a little while. He didn’t seem to have any issues with the white stuff as he bombed through it and flew around to a few different spots around the yard.
Desirée shot this heron out of the sunroof while we were driving into the sun along Plummers Road near Priddis. It was beautiful light to see this bird in flight – but such a hard photograph to get. She has worked hard at her photography and built on her natural talent. I feel like this image is such a great reward for that: Artistic, dynamic, perfectly focused and truly beautiful. It’s my favorite image of a great blue heron. An incredible shot sweetheart!
This great gray owl was hunting in a field near Grand Valley Road a couple of weeks ago. On one of the glides between perches above the grass, she flew towards me and landed on a ranch gate behind me.
This loon had a small lake to himself a week ago. After swimming around a small island once, he decided to preen. I am used to this being a relatively short session that ends with the stretch out of the water as in the image above. This time was very different and saw the bird splash, skim, dunk and flap for 15 minutes. I’m guilty of thinking that he was having great fun during his bath time. While this is not unusual behavior for loons, it was new to me for the amount of time and the exuberance displayed.
I had a great time was watching and enjoyed looking for dynamic images that I have never had the opportunity to photograph before. The head emerging from the water, wings outstretched perpendicular to the water, surface skimming while beating droplets into a fury around him were among my favorite moments. Here are a few of the images that put a smile on my face when I reviewed them a couple of days after the encounter.
This owl was hunting along a field and flew up to this post close to me after swallowing a vole. The sunlight shone through the extended feathers as she flared her wings to land. The intensity of the great gray owl eyes was on full display as well. A few different elements came together to make an image that I really like.
We heard a quiet buzz above our deck yesterday, looked up and saw a Rufous hummingbird hovering near our feeder. It was our first one of the year and one of the most welcome migratory birds that return to our backyard each year.
I found this red fox hunting in a field recently. It was well into dusk but she had no trouble maneuvering through the grass. Photographing her in motion was much more of a challenge. In this image, I dragged the shutter to 1/6th of a second and tried to capture that energy. She reminded me of my daughter, her spirit and her intelligence – as every fox that I see does.