Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Make my day, Short-eared Owl

Cruising down the beach.
The light was bad, the day was blah, I was cold, the place was dead, nothing was flying and I was out of time.  I had been walking quietly  along the backshore at Keystone Spit with my camera and was going to write off the day as birdless.

In fact I had just turned back toward my car when this Short-eared Owl took wing in front of me.  I snapped many blurry images while the lone focal-point of my telephoto scanned the empty, white sky, trying to lock onto the bird.

Watching me.
Short-eared Owls are a special treat. In my forest setting at home I see only Great-horned Owls and Barred Owls.  My only Short-eared sightings have been at Keystone. 

I was on my way to seven hours of meetings in Coupeville and had left home a few minutes early to swing past this area on the long-shot chance I might stumble upon a migrating Snowy Owl.

Short-eared Owls are right at home in the wide-open landscape around the Keystone Ferry Terminal. They favor open grasslands where they can fly low and hunt rodents, particularly voles. These owls will hunt not only at night but also during the day. This one seemed to favor the beach and certainly was not sleeping.

Still watching me through the tall grass.
As always, the challenge when photographing birds is not to disturb or stress them. This one never took its eye off me, so I kept my distance. There were no memorable images from this outing, but simply seeing the owl made my day.

It kept me smiling and happy through seven hours of meetings in hard, straight-backed chairs.


  1. Crockett Lake and Keystone Spit are teaming with life, as Dan has illustrated with his photos and writing. I appreciated the emphasis on not stressing the bird while trying to photographing it.

  2. really enjoyed seeing these and reading the post