First: There's some problem and my photos taken on the 30D are not downloading, so these pics are from my trusty MLC2, and it was VERY low-light, remember...so forgive the grains in the pics...!
I found, on the net, that
is a self-confessed GHOF (Great Horned Owl Follower)...and I emailed him, and on Sunday evening, we met up at Forest Park, and as the sun set, he took me across the park for what turned out to be a wonderful evening of sighting and observing the
GREAT HORNED OWL couple that he has been observing over the years.
Mark first took me to where these owls had been nesting in earlier years, and then, nearby, pointed up into the foliage of a cottonwood tree...and after I stopped looking carefully at a bit of branch, I found the beautiful Sarah high up, where I could have looked a million times and not seen her!
After looking at her for a while (she was partly hidden by the foliage), he said he would take me to where I might be able to see Charles, the smaller-than-his-mate male. At the base of one of the conifers, Mark showed me signs of the presence of the owls...droppings, and the jaw-bone of some hapless rodent that had become their dinner:
...and in a nearby patch of wooded area, far into the trees, deep in the foliage, I too was able to spot him...
You can see the distance at which Mark is able to spot the birds at twilight! And on the video, he's also explaining some facts about the owls...and you can continously hear the cicadas...and then you can see Charles spreading his wings, and then, quite literally, give a hoot!
(The males have a deeper hoot and a longer one than the females, Mark told me.)
Then, suddenly, as Mark told me that owls can fly at 40 miles per hour, the male owl took flight:
I thought that was the end of it (it was getting darker now), but Mark knew just where he'd gone, and we circled around to see him in a bare tree:
Very soon, Sarah flew in to keep him company, and they made lovely silhouettes in the twilit sky:
And another angle for this beauty, where the "horns" are clearly visible:
Sarah kept hooting to her mate, it was lovely to watch and listen:
As it grew really dark, Sarah flew to another tree, and the two kept calling to each other. And then they flew to an area where Mark said their future nest site may be. It was too dark to see them very clearly at this time, but we quietly approached the tree, and I was able to see her in one tree, and Mark was able to spot Charles in a hollow in another tree very close to us. Alas, it was too dark for the MLC2 by now!
But then, Charles swooped across in his silent flight, and flew past, quite close to us! It was really a thrilling moment.
Thank you, Mark, for introducing me to the Great Horned Owls of Forest Park! I hope to see more of them now...
I left the place with Mark, and left Forest Park to the care of the Great Horned Owl:
- Great Horned Owls at Forest Park