Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Owl Adventures - Evening 2

I've spent the last day reading everything I can find about the Great Horned Owl.
Turns out this is the most common owl in both North and South America. People see them all of the time. They're fascinating and we've never seen one so we're on a mission to change that.

We weren't discouraged by not hearing him Friday night so Saturday afternoon, right before dusk, we tried again.

We saw this nest in the pine tree we think the owl was in the first night we heard him. This nest was most likely built by a Blue Heron but the Great Horned Owl doesn't build it's own nest, it commandeers big nests like this one from the original owners. I don't know if this owl has taken over the nest or if he was just sitting on one of the branches of that particular tree.

While we were waiting for dusk we saw this path down to the water.

The first thing I noticed was how thick the Spanish Moss was.

We walked up into the woods and the moss was incredible. It was SO thick and in some places hanging from the highest tree limbs all the way to the ground. You would need a machete to walk through it. I don't think I've ever seen Spanish Moss as thick as it is there.

It was stunning but I couldn't help but think about the unimaginable number of chiggers that must live in there LOL

We made our way back to the area we'd heard the owl in and settled down to wait.

It was a pretty night and not too cold (upper 40s)so we watched the moon.

And took more photos of the circle.

And hoped the owl would hoot.

We were leaning up against the front of the truck when all of a sudden we heard a "whoosh" sound behind us. We looked up just in time to see a large Red Tailed Hawk swoop past us. Low. He never slowed down and within a second was out of sight.
He was so low we both heard and felt the rush of wind as he went by. He must have swooped down for a look and decided we were too big to be tasty LOL

About 20 minutes later we heard him. Hoot. Hoot. Yeah!! He was in the tree where the nest is and we were going to see him. I had my point and shoot camera which takes video and planned on recording his hoots.

Our plan was to record him and then find him with the flashlight. As soon as I spotted him with the light, the Island King was to snap the picture.
Sounds like a good plan, right?

The owl is hooting away and we realize we aren't ready. The flashlight is in the truck and the Island King doesn't have the flash on the camera set like he wants it.
So the owl is hooting and hooting and we're standing up by the truck getting ready.

The first night we heard him he was hooting from the big pine tree for the whole half hour we were there so neither of us thought he'd be leaving anytime soon.

We got everything ready and started towards the pine tree when we hear him hooting from much farther away. He's leaving! We kept walking towards the pine tree and then we heard him again. He was definitely not in the tree and he's much farther away.

We missed him! AAAGGGHHH! Why weren't we ready? Well this stinks. We walked for a while in the direction we could hear him but soon it became obvious that he was no longer on the property and was somewhere deep in the woods on the other side of the road.

We walked back to the truck and waited for a while longer but he never returned.

We were pretty bummed that we missed seeing him because we weren't ready when he showed up. I'm telling you, nature photography is so much harder than architectural photography LOL

So that was evening 2 of our Great Horned Owl hunt. At least we're now pretty sure that this is where he lives and that if we're ready when he shows up, we might really see him. Tomorrow night we're bringing lawn chairs, a thermos of coffee and our little propane heater and we're setting up camp in the woods by that pine tree.

Only this time we'll have the camera ready LOL
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