With the brutal heat and humidity of this summer, birding has almost become a distant memory because it feels so long ago. I know I have birded, despite the heat, but haven't seen a whole lot of anything. Or rather, nothing that I am not seeing in my backyard for the most part.
There have been less blazing days lately and I've started to wander away from the backyard again.
Not straying too far from home because of some home projects; but you know, sometimes just knowing your own neighbourhood is a good thing and you'd be surprised what is actually around your house at times if you just stop and look.
Prime example, I found this Great Horned Owl literally in our neighbourhood. I am talking just a little more than a stone throw away from our front door.
He/she was a wonderful surprise this past Monday. And honestly an Owl was the last thing in my head of birds I thought I might see today. I associate Owls with the colder months although I am well aware Great Horns and Screech Owls are about the city all year round.
I just happened to look up into a large pine tree and notice an odd "stump" on one of the branches. Instantly I thought, "holy s**t, that's an Owl!" but argued with myself about it, debating it, until I got the bins on this object for confirmation.
I should have taken a photo without the zoom, so you could see the distance, and how well these creatures blend in with their surroundings. I guess not that well this time since I happened to see him.
I moved around the tree, keeping a good distance back. For one, I didn't want to stress him out; although most start to feel some stress as soon as they take notice of a person watching them which is why people really need to limit their Owl viewing to 5 minutes or so and move on. And second, backing away from the tree gives a person a better frontal view of the bird as opposed to being under the tree and under the bird providing the bird even sticks around with your invasion of his "house". Hey, another good reason is that he just might s**t on you. Some say it's good luck, you'll come into money, win a lottery; trust me, I've been s**t on enough times by various birds to know that is just a myth.
Anyways, viewing the Owl from the front now, I could see he was awake. And he wasn't calm. Which surprised me because every other Great Horned Owl I have seen in the wild, high up in a tree, sit up there like Kings and pay little attention to us puny Humans walking about the ground below them. But this one, he wasn't relaxed at all. And it wasn't just with me looking at him. Noisy children in the distance got his attention. Some city workers maintaining the grounds with power tools nearby had him looking over that way. Squabbling Robins in another tree was another seeming annoyance. And of course, he would turn back and glare at me as well.
I cut my time with him even shorter than I usually spend with these creatures. I felt bad for him. Was he just grumpy today? Was he a younger Owl and curious of all that was going on around him? Maybe he just arrived on this location recently and is still checking it out, seeing if it's good grounds to live from, and adjusting to the sights and sounds around him? Who knows? So I took a few photos and then moved on...
Ya, he looks cranky...
As I wandered the woods, I happened to find a few Raccoons, like I almost always do wherever I go.
This one was perhaps a little camera shy?
I passed the Great Horn one final time as I headed for home. Still in the same tree, just moved a little higher up. I was still bothered by his agitated state.
As I key this, it's Wednesday now, and I went for another walk today before some errands and found him once again. I was delighted to see him in a much more relaxed state on this fine morning. I watched him with the bins for a moment, took this photo and immediately moved on. He's content, and I aim to do my part to keep him that way.