Normally I think of myself as very observant, I often see birds in the field before the other photographers who might be in the field with me. I can spot just a part of an animal and know that they are there. When I am in the field my eyes are constantly scanning my surroundings on the land and in the air. I’ve gotten to know several locations very well and can spot a bump on a sagebrush that shouldn’t be there that turns out to be a bird. I once noticed a rock that looked out of place. Well it was a very dark Porcupine.
But I have found that sometimes I need to fine tune my vision even further.
Great Horned Owl – November 11, 2011
Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up
On the 11th of November I spotted this Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) in a Tamarisk and photographed it, after seeing where it was perched I started to routinely look for it from a road above where the owl has been roosting. On the 22nd of November I saw a familiar shape in the same Tamarisk and went down to photograph what I believed to be the same owl that I had photographed on November 11th.
Great Horned Owl – November 22, 2011
Nikon f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up
I took many images of the owl I spotted on the 22nd of November and though I wished then that the bird had chosen a more open location to roost I was happy with the images I took.
After editing a few images from the second session with the Great Horned Owl in the Tamarisk I uploaded three of the images to my photo galleries and when I went to the gallery to verify that they had uploaded correctly I saw somethings immediately that I had not seen in the field.
The owl I photographed on November 22nd was NOT the same owl I had photographed on November 11th.
When I had the images side by side I quickly noticed that the owl I photographed on November 11th had rustier coloration in the facial disk, forehead and body. That owl also has more barring of the chest.
The owl I photographed on November 11th had more white on the chest, less barring and the facial disk was grayer.
I’m excited that two owls are using the same roosting location and from now on I will be looking more closely to determine which of the two I am seeing.
Who knows; maybe I’ll be surprised and spot a third owl in that same location.