The path leading into the live oak forest is hard packed sand and covered with years of fallen leaves, making its color rusty brown. It is early evening and the light filtering through the heavily treed canopy creates long shadows. Some of the trees are huge with thick trunks and long branches giving away their age.
Some of the branches are so heavy they grow toward the ground. The branches are covered with moisture loving green moss and ferns, perfect compliments to these old giants.
We are walking along the trail, enjoying the quite, Howard in the lead with Skye and I bringing up the rear. All of a sudden Howard stops in front of me and I run right into him. He softly tells me, “I saw an owl fly and it landed on a branch just ahead.” We stand still for a few seconds not wanting to scare the owl and then began slowly walking toward the tree. Howard says, “Hand me Skye so you can get closer, I will stay back.”
I walk quietly and slowly not wanting it to fly. My heart is pounding, because it looks like a Barred Owl, which I have never seen in the wild. Oh my gosh, it is a Barred Owl. I am so excited.
I don’t have my camera, but I take a photo with my phone. It isn’t a good photo, because the owl is so high up in the tree and the lighting is not the best.
It doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is standing there in the forest, watching the owl. It stays perched looking around and looking down at me. This encounter was unexpected and amazing.
~The Barred Owl is number 388 on my Birding Life List~
A small heron, adults dark blue-gray with purple-maroon neck, immatures are unique among all herons in that they are white. Prefers to feed in fresh water and edges of grassy pools. Eats fish, frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, shrimp and crabs. When water disappears they will eat grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and other insects of the grasslands. Flight is graceful and strong, wing strokes quicker than that of larger herons.Flies with head drawn in on shoulders.