Two years ago yesterday I was lucky enough to tag along with an experienced birder as he showed me where to find the burrowing owls ‘here’ in Florida. Here being hours from home, but a day trip, and that trip allowed for lots of stops to places I had only heard about along the way. In looking through my old photos in the computer these pictures of the burrowing owls stood out simply because of how cute they are. But then I thought of how we seem to be burrowing in these days, and how totally unaware we were of what was heading our way. That there would ever be such a thing as quarantine. It’s getting to me, I have to admit it. One year ago I had forced myself out of my comfort zone to start my camping adventure, spurred on by the fact that I had shot my mouth off and said I was going to do it, so I had to just do it. Now this lack of activity has me wondering if I’ll be able to get myself going again when its over. It will be over eventually, right?
These are the Honeymoon Island owlets from 2018. I looked for these pictures when I wanted to post pictures of animals choosing to snuggle. An anti-social isolation sort of thing was what I had in mind And when my friend was visiting not long ago I did remember to take her to Honeymoon Island to see this year’s crop of owlets, but it was disappointing compared to this visit. Our view was straight on and across a distance. In 2018 they were ahead and to the right. But then I also had taken my big heavy tripod and lens with me back then also. I dragged it with me because it was new at the time. I can talk myself out of it more easily these days. So these are more old photos through new eyes. Photo ops from the computer, perfect for the times.
To see an owl in the wild is so exciting. But to see them at Philippe Park where you know which tree they nest in, and, happily, that tree is right in the open, it seems a bit less than ‘wild’. But it is. The camouflage is such that it always takes me a long time to ‘find’ them, even with help, but a treat it is when I do. Today Mama was on a branch, just keeping watch at first…And then she suddenly flew to the nest, a move that had all of us scooting to the other side of the tree for the best view. Once I found Mom in the nest I was thrilled, but disappointed that while you could see the owlet’s downey head, you couldn’t see a face. I only knew that that round, fluffy, mound was the baby because it bobbed a little. And Mom looked down at it so lovingly.It wasn’t until I could see the photos in the computer that I realized that I could see the baby’s eyes. So cute. It looks a bit like a feline face to me.Only a few of the pictures really showed the baby, but even that was a treat, so it was okay. Seemed like Mom gave us a little wink, and then it seemed that it was time for 40 winks, and it was time for us to head home anyhow.
Can you see the Daddy Owl up there? Camouflage is the name of the game with these two owls, owls in general based on how hard it usually is to see them. Without other photographers there to point them out I would never have spotted these two. There is a debate as to whether this is the same pair who have nested in the area in the past. This is a different nest though, but in the same tree as the one I’ve seen in the past. And the female spent the whole time down in the nest. We could see that she rearranged herself a bit, but a peek out at us was the most we saw of her. She is busy sitting on eggs, that much seems to be a given. I’ll be back soon, hoping for more action when their chicks hatch. I don’t quite understand how I’ve gotten so invested in watching Mother Nature in action. Eagles and owls, and my former neighbors have promised to let me know when/if the Sandhill cranes that I used to watch out my kitchen window begin their housekeeping. It bothers me that all of this, the sunrises and sunsets, and nature going about her business, was going on my whole life and I failed to pay attention. It seems that the simple things in life are all that matters at these days. If only I would have figured that out sooner…
This post came up as a memory yesterday and I’ve been knocking my head against a wall trying to figure out how to republish a post. I went back again but wasn’t able to get as nice photos as I did this first time. And now the owls of Philippe Park are feeding babies again, but I’m missing it this time around. Next time for sure.
Photographers are a friendly bunch. They freely share information on where to go to see whatever birds you may wish to see. Upon losing the eaglets my attention turned to the Great Horned Owl nest I’ve been hearing about. One of my new acquaintances posts info on the current conditions in the various parks around, so I was well aware that Phillipe Park was the place to go to find an owl-ette (?). I had never been there before, but I was hopeful that I would find the nest. I asked directions once I was there and was told to go through the 4-way stop and look for the paparazzi, LOL, and it worked. Well, it got me to the area, but the other photographers had to point out the nest. One even moved over to give me a better view, and finally I spotted the Mom up above the nest in a tree. Some of them had been there for three hours when I got there, but I was just in time, they said, because they expected her to move to the nest any minute. Then it would be feeding time.The Spanish moss that you see was a challenge to shoot through. It was hanging from limbs between the owls and where we were standing, and it was blowing back and forth. I had to switch to manual focus because auto focus kept refocusing as the moss came into the viewer. Then someone yelled that she was in flight…Once she landed all you could see was the baby, sort of…And we all scrambled across the way, hoping for a better angle.And oh by the way, I wasn’t far off with my made up owl-ette. Siri says it’s actually owlet. Such a cute face, and quite the wing spread from the glimpse I got of that. I have no idea what I used to think about before I became a bird-brain…
I am revisiting the owl photos from Phillippe Park which were posted in February because there is news to report. When I heard that there was an owlet at the park I headed there asap, and because of how wonderfully birders share their information I was able to find the tree. The nest was surrounded by photographers most every day, present, but respectful of the nest. They dubbed this owlet Charlotte, they alternate male and female names every year. So this might have been new to me but it’s an annual event. I only went there to photograph the owlet twice, and shortly after the second visit the photographers reported that Charlotte had fallen out of the tree and scratched her eye. She was taken to Sarasota for rehab, and several unsuccessful attempts to return her to the nest ensued, and there was much debate among birders as to whether she should have been taken from the nest at all. But there is good news to report. She was recently returned to the nest area in Philippe park and is reported to have a parent with her in the trees. All of my info is second hand, or actually third hand, but I choose to be happy and hope that that owl has a long life ahead of her in that beautiful park.
Looking for photos of the owlet has reminded me that I have never set Lightroom in my computer to fully take advantage of the abilities of the program to organize your photos. You can tag your photos, and then a search for ‘owls’ would have brought up all my owl photos. You can rate your photos as they are imported into your computer, or you might choose to color code them, and Jeff, fearless leader of the group, talks about how quickly he can find a photo he might be looking for among his thousands of photos. But I’m a beginner, and he also talks about the silly things that beginners think they need to do. Like delete unusable photos one by one, when it’s also possible to tag the photos you will eventually delete and then purge them in one fell swoop. It drives me crazy when he talks about beginners and the silly things that they do, mostly because it’s as if he has been reading my mind. A little, or possibly a lot of organization is needed, I see that now. Alas, I don’t have new photos to share, but these are the ones I used previously.