Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Gift for Earth Day!

Barred Owl

It was early in the morning when it happened. Winds were out of the north during the night so I didn't expect much activity in the way of new migrant songbirds. Nevertheless, I decided to carry my scope and camera with me as I counted the birds of Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Walking east toward the rising sun, there wasn't a lot of birdsong yet, but something caught my eye as I came around a bend in the creek. No doubt it had noticed me first. The two of us made eye contact, but only for a split second as I quickly looked away and continued walking down the trail pretending to be unaware. But I knew.

As I passed I couldn't have been more than a dozen or so feet away from the dark-eyed being I was sharing the same breathing space with; perhaps it sensed it was safe on the opposite side of the narrow creek. When I guessed I was at a sufficient distance for taking a photograph, I stopped, carefully opened my tripod, and then slowly swung my scope around. The Barred Owl never took its eyes off me as I captured several portraits. As I said, it was early and the sun hadn't yet poured its rays into the corridor, but it was still bright enough for a cooperative bird, which is what I was given.

When I was satisfied with the images I captured, the two of us continued sharing a mutual gaze for a few additional moments; the same forest and space, but completely alien to one another. Well, the owl knows enough to be leery, and me enough to be grateful. Finally, it was time for the owl to go to roost in the conifers and for me to carry on with hopes of encounters with other woodland denizens. My decision to haul my digiscoping rig along the corridor trail turned out to be a very good one, indeed!

White Trillium 

All images © 2012 Mike McDowell


  1. "...the owl knows enough to be leery, and me enough to be grateful."

    Luv it! In my experience Barreds can be amazingly cooperative for cameras (especially along well-travelled human paths), but still best showing these gorgeous denizens the respect they deserve.

  2. Love the picture. Thanks for sharing.