I rejoice that there are owls…
~Henry David Thoreau
I just returned from a very special place – Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. I came away with several thousand images, mostly of Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes, the “stars” of Bosque. But in the predawn light and in the twilight after sunset each day, I looked for something special in a certain area along the road. It was a silhouette, a powerful shadow of the night sky – a Great Horned Owl.
Over five days, I probably saw the owl five or six times, all within a quarter mile stretch of road inside the refuge. It was always perched on a prominent object, surveying its domain, looking and listening for a potential meal amongst the grasses and shrubs. There are relatively few trees here so I imagine the owl may have a nest site in one of the groves of Cottownwoods near the highway. The image above was taken on the first morning in the refuge, a good omen I thought.
One of the many highlights of the trip was the full moon rising with cranes flying into one of the ponds along the road near the owl’s territory. As I drove out that night, there was the owl, sitting in the bare branches of a small tree along the railroad tracks. As I had stayed with the cranes until the moon was well up off the horizon, it was tough to get into position for a photo of the owl against the moon. I took a few images of it in the glow of the full moon before tying to get closer.
I now know my body wasn’t designed to crouch so low while messing with a camera and tripod trying to frame an owl against a brightening moon. But, the owl did not seem to mind, and I managed a few shots before it glided down on some unsuspecting rodent and then disappeared into the trees.
A shadow can a powerful thing, and this one gave me an experience I will not forget.
Wonderful photos, especially the owl against the moon!
Thanks, Lisa. I wish I could have had more time to try to adjust the brightness of the moon so you could see more of its details, but, a special moment nevertheless…
Bosque del Apache is such a special place. I envy your trip there. The pictures are great, hope you will post some more!
Thanks, Thomas. I do intend to post a couple more blogs on the refuge. Just deciding which pictures is tough 🙂
Fantastic photos! I have always loved owls and am envious that you had so many great sightings. The silhouette against the moon is awesome!
Thanks. Took a look at your blog and you have some beautiful work. It sure looks like you guys get around.
We love traveling, so we certainly try our best! We’ve never made it to Bosque before, but we have heard great things about it. Thanks for providing more inspiration to get there.
The magnificence of that OWL brought tears to my eyes! BY the way MIke…..CRANES are my favorite birds so would love to view the photos of Sandhill cranes if you have any!!!!
Thanks. It was a magical experience in a magical place.