I hear the calls of a distressed robin. Has to be an owl nearby. Heavy-ish rain. I step outside, find the owl — a barred owl sitting on a bare branch high in a pine tree.
Run, run, run to get the camera and a longish (70-200mm) lens. Owl is too far off, and the rain continues. The robin is gone. It’s 2:19 p.m. when I take the first photo.
I’m now on the front porch, keeping dry, and photographing the owl. Not unlike a dog, he shakes his body and something floats down onto the grass. He leans forward and tracks it as it falls. A feather? A leaf?
Chris is now watching from the kitchen window. I gently hoot the first three notes of a great horned owl. Usually when I do that, the owl looks at me like, “Really? I know it’s you. Nice try.” But this guy, immediate reaction! Except he doesn’t know where the sound came from. I’m down low and in front. The barred owl quickly swivels his head to his left and looks upward. (Chris, inside the house, sees the owl’s reaction, but doesn’t know yet that it’s because of me.)
The owl sits, head turned, for quite some time. Decides there’s no threat, and seemingly dozes.
At 2:44 p.m. the owl turns, poops, flies into the forest, and disappears.
I get an umbrella, walk out to the tree, and find one small feather in the grass.
The joy (for me) comes from recognizing the robin call, that there’s a threat nearby. And then, in all the trees out there, I can find the barred owl. And he stays for a long time. There’s more pleasure that I can imitate (usually quite poorly) a great horned owl call. (Great horned owls and barred owls don’t play well together). That the barred owl actually thought I was an owl and reacted. And then there was the gift of the feather.
These small wonderments enrich my life. May your life also be filled with such wonders.
(About the pictures . . . They are not good, but for me they are priceless. My lens was too short, the scene was dark, it was raining — often hard — my ISO was 1250 and the pictures are grainy. In color there were too many distractions in the trees, so I turned the images into sketches of sorts, focusing all attention on the owl. The feather was shot here at my desk and I used an iPhone to do it. I turned it into a sketchy monochromatic image as well to sort of “go” with the owl shots. A good photographer knows what NOT to show. In this case, I obviously don’t care!)
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