Great Gray Owl

February 23, 2017  •  1 Comment

It was my first time seeing and photographing this bird in the wild...This amazing bird, the Great Gray Owl, is a rare sighting in Boise, Idaho. In the past, we've spent hours driving and looking for them in their usual habitat without success. My husband got off work early to accompany me for a chance to see it in our own backyard. What a treat to park, walk a few minutes and see it there perched low on a fencepost. It was easy to spot because there were quite a few other photographers there with tripods, monopods and cameras & lenses of all sizes and brands...all capturing this largest of the North American Owls.

In my excitement, it was hard to keep my hands from shaking. It was cold when we arrived.  The heavy overcast made for higher ISO settings, introducing digital noise into the images.  Soon the others left; except for a retired man, Dave, whom we had just met.  Dave was nice enough to share some good, unobstructed vantage points with me, before he left.  Thanks, Dave!

Now, it was just me, my husband and the Great Gray Owl.  The bird was not bothered by us, but would take flight once in a while or just bristle when joggers and/or their dogs would run past. We changed our position accordingly, so as to get unobstructed views for images.  As the light changed, so did my settings as well as the white balance.  In the image below, the owl had flown from where it had been perched, as yet another dog came by, and it landed low and very close to the trail.

It was very difficult to capture this bird in flight with all of the trees in this area (and the overcast sky and resulting slower shutter speeds or higher ISO).  Here, it flew up the hill a ways where it was clearer, but it was flying low so I still didn't get it without any grasses in the foreground. The owl landed on a fencepost.  At first I was downhill a bit from him and I walked slowly up the trail so I could get the composition you see in the image below.  I wanted to get a little closer and to the right, so I could get his whole body in the picture without the post in the way but I didn't want to bother him.  I sat down for a few minutes just to watch and enjoy the moment; just myself, alone with the owl. (my hubby had stayed further down the trail)  As you can see, the bird is looking away at something. Another jogger soon ran past me and the bird again flew off to another perch.   It once again began to rain only now it was more like spitting snow and it was getting dark.  If you look carefully, you can see the rain/snow in the image below. We were both getting pretty cold so we decided to call it a day.  I feel privileged to have been able to witness this bird and grateful to have brought home a few decent photos.  Some are pretty noisy, but I did what I could in Lightroom to remove it without losing too much detail.  Have you ever seen or photographed a Great Gray Owl in the wild?  If so, I'd love to hear about it.  Post about it in the comments!

 


Comments

1.Beautiful Nature Blog & pics(non-registered)
Wow! To stay still & quiet when excited & freezing would be quite the challenge. Great job pulling it off. Thank you for sharing part of this majestic birds world. A rare treat!
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