Monday, December 8, 2008

The Owl Adventures

For as long as I can remember I've been fascinated with owls. There's something ancient and wise and almost a little scary about them. And oddly, I have never seen an owl in the wild. I'm not sure why not - they live around here, but for the life of me I can't remember ever seeing one that wasn't in a zoo. I've seen an eagle sitting in a nest along the Homosassa River, I see Egrets, Herons and Pelicans every day, we have woodpeckers and a large assortment of birds that enjoy our bird feeders, a Red Tailed Hawk that eyes our little dog on occasion, and recently a pink flamingo standing on the beach, but no owls.

The Island King is fascinated with them as well and he can't remember ever seeing one either.

The Tuesday night before Thanksgiving, the Island King and I were wandering around the property he's shooting and heard the loudest "HOO-HOO" you can imagine. I mean it was REALLY loud and our first thought was that this must be a HUGE owl. We spent a while shining our flashlights up in the trees but we never saw him.
He was hooting a lot and for a minute we'd think he was in one tree and then his next hoot would sound like it was coming from a different tree. We spent almost an hour wandering around, hoping to see him but never could spot him.

Last week the Island King went back to the property and when he came home he told me that he'd heard the owl again but never saw it.

A few nights later he was out there and when he came home he was really excited.
He came in the door saying "I saw it and it was HUGE!" He said he was standing near a tree when a movement caught his eye. He looked up just in time to see the owl land on a branch near where he was standing. He said it was really big and looked almost like a bobcat sitting on the tree branch. It had large, pointy ears and kept making loud, hooting sounds. He ran back to his truck for the camera but when he got back, the owl was gone.

We did some research and found out that this is a Great Horned Owl and this property is obviously his home. We also read that these owls are ventriloquial - which explains why he sounded like he was in one tree one minute and then in another tree the next minute.

The Island King was out there again on Friday and he came home right before dusk to get me. We set out, armed with cameras, flashlights and hot coffee, determined to get a picture.

And of course, we never heard a peep (or should I say hoot?) We waited and waited, watching for movement in the trees and listening for hoots but there was nothing. We stayed until well after dark, freezing our behinds off but never heard or caught a glimpse of him. The Island King laughed and talked about how different nature photography is from what he normally does. He says that the houses he shoots are always there and they stand perfectly still for him LOL

Now, we're obsessed. Determined to see this owl and take his picture. We're going back tonight and unless we see him, I'm sure we'll go back again and again until we do.

Hopefully, I'll have pictures to share soon!
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