Great Horned Owl close up in northern Utah – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
After spending most of the morning frustrated by birds that were too far away, a totally ruined opportunity with three Bald Eagles, extremely skittish Rough-legged Hawks plus a Prairie Falcon that was even more jittery I was feeling discouraged and even thought about switching my field of photography to something less exasperating. Maybe photographing street signs or light posts would be easy?
Anyway, after hours of searching for birds to photograph and coming up basically empty handed it was time to head towards home. My one positive thought at the time was “Well I won’t have much to cull” but even that thought was a bit depressing.
Great Horned Owl portrait in northern Utah – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
Knowing that there was a long drive home I wanted to stop and use a vault toilet that I knew of on some public lands and to check to see if there were any birds on the way to it. Then I had another ruined opportunity with a Rough-legged Hawk just after getting off of the paved road and onto the dirt road that goes to the area where the toilet is located. Just more frustration and disappointment.
At the vault toilet I got out of the vehicle, peed and got back into the “mobile blind” and when it started to move forward I glanced at the old wooden, boarded-up shed behind the vault toilet and saw two yellow eyes looking back at me from less than 25 feet away.
Blinking Great Horned Owl – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/200, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
I stopped to answer the call of nature and found a Great Horned Owl and to my delight it was a very cooperative owl at that. The owl was the bird highlight of my day and after spending hours trying to spot birds and being frustrated when I couldn’t get images of the birds I did find I could feel my frustration level slowly dissipate as I took photo after photo of this Great Horned Owl from inside the “mobile blind” from different angles and locations on the oval shaped road around the vault toilet and old wooden shed.
The owl never showed signs of discomfort and that may be because the area where the vault toilet is located does get heavy traffic at this time of the year so it might be accustomed to human encroachment and activity.
Sleepy Great Horned Owl – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/250, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
I’m so very glad I needed to stop to answer the call of nature yesterday when and where I did because if I hadn’t I would have gone home with a fairly empty memory card and instead I have lovely close up portraits of a wonderful, obliging Great Horned Owl.
You just never know where, when or why you might find great birds to photograph.
Life is good.