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The Owl at the Beaver Pond

The Owl at the Beaver Pond

One of the fascinating things about Owls is how well they blend into their surroundings. When you think about it, it is astounding. Here are some of the biggest birds in the forest and yet it is often impossible to see them while they roost on a branch near you. This was the case when Cindy and I found ourselves directly underneath this stately Great-horned Owl the other day.

We had heard that a pair of wood duck are wintering at an old abandoned beaver pond deep in the woods surrounding the San Pedro river. Trudging a mile and a half in the hot desert sun with my tripod, camera, and long lens over my shoulder, we finally reached a point on the trail that was parallel with the pond. From there, with no discernable path to follow, we had to bushwack through the woods to the spot where the ducks were supposed to be.

Have I mentioned lately that every plant in the Arizona high desert has some kind of thorn or pricker on it?

Navigating through the stinging underbrush and over the dried fallen leaves that covered the ground was not a silent process. By the time we reached the river there was no wood duck. I'm somewhat sure that they flushed to safer waters when they heard us approach. We waited an hour in the hopes that they would return before deciding to head back to the car.

As we turned to leave, we noticed a dry wash heading in the direction of the main trail. Not wanting to repeat the experience of the walk in, and unworried about the chance of a flash flood at this time of year, we decided to follow the cleared path out of the woods. With my tripod and camera once again over my shoulder and my head down, we began the walk out. We had only proceeded about ten feet when I noticed rocks covered in whitewash. Intrigued I looked up and there, not five feet over my head, was this Great-horned Owl. It had been watching us the entire time, completely unconcerned about our presence. Setting up my camera, I focused on the bird and realized that 600mm was way too much lens. Pulling back the lens so that the Owl was entirely in the frame I took my shots. Not wanting to overstay our welcome I only took about a dozen shots, thanked the bird for its accommodation and headed to the car.

The miracle of life that surrounds us is one of the greatest of Gods gifts. We have only to allow ourselves to become aware of our surroundings and open our eyes more fully to receive the reward of His splendor. I am blessed to have been given the privilege to experience these miracles and humbly remain a scribe to His wonders.
Shoot Date: December 21, 2018
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Shutter priority ¹⁄₅₀₀ sec at f/6.3 0 EV
Lens: TAMRON SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD A011 @ 350 mm
ISO: 1250