Curing owl envy

T6C2875, Great Grey Owl, Saskatchewan,

The wind fans out the owl’s feathers as it surveys the landscape. The snow adds an interesting effect to the background.

Have you ever had owl envy? It feels like something is just not right.

Over the last few months I have been like a kid desperately wanting that special toy for Christmas. The seed was planted last winter when I took my first photo of a snowy owl. That really whet my appetite! With no cast on my arm this winter, I was determined to get more and better snowy owl shots. Alas my search only turned up lonely telephone posts pleading for company.

Once I had owls swooping in my head, they appeared everywhere. Blogs, Facebook posts, websites, conversations, dreams – wherever I turned there were gorgeous owls of every kind and description. Friends and relatives unmercifully fed this affliction by gleefully reporting sightings everywhere I wasn’t. All the real and virtual images of these mysterious predators only made me want to find them more.

Given my lack of success, I tempered my enthusiasm last weekend when we headed to an area where there had been reports of owls. I had no idea where to look but there’s no harm in trying especially when the scenery is nice.

I know that the best wildlife sightings are usually at dusk or dawn (ironically being a night owl limits my dawn options). I ruefully noted that we were driving around in the middle of the day. Nothing like increasing my odds!

_T6C2713 (1), Great Grey Owl, Saskatchewan,

Suddenly I spotted an owl at the side of the road. Success! Increased heart rate! I madly scrambled to grab my camera and set up the bean bag.

The owl appeared to be a completely different colour than the forest. Yet as soon as I looked down, I had a hard time locating it again. After a couple of stops in nearby trees, I thot I might stay around long enough to set up my tripod. When I looked up again, it had mysteriously disappeared. I suspect it may have still been watching me.

We drove around some more, had lunch, and later found another owl on a wire. At least it didn’t disappear in the forest this time. I took more shots as it moved to different spots along the wire. Occasionally it would give me a bored look with those gorgeous yellow eyes but it was focused on food. What a thrill to share the company of this large, beautiful bird as it effortlessly coasted between landings. Eventually it left me standing there with a huge smile on my face.

My owl envy was cured … for now.

_T6C2834, Great Grey Owl, Saskatchewan, flying, flight

It is such a beautiful sight to see the owl effortlessly flying.

_T6C2780, Great Grey Owl, Saskatchewan,

_T6C2902, Great Grey Owl, Saskatchewan, winter

I tried to frame the owl with the tree in the background. I like the effect.




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Latest Comments

  1. alderandash says:

    Wonderful photos – and description of ‘the chase’. I’m no photographer, but did have chance one afternoon to watch a barn owl hunting rabbits for over an hour in our fields. I managed to get a couple of photos – nothing brilliant, but a lovely reminder of the day. There’s just something about owls!

    Like

  2. sabarashid says:

    reminded me of harry potter 😦

    Like

  3. Shy says:

    really amazing photos! A great horned owl flew right infront of me while walking on a path. If i were facing the other way I would have never known he was went by. Amazing creatures! Great site by the way!

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks. Those owls are truly amazing so it’s no wonder they have such appeal. I finally saw my first snowy owl yesterday and it was a thrill. It was wonderful to watch but it flew away just as I was raising my camera.

      Like

  4. Amit says:

    The story and the pictures strike at the core of what most bird lovers experience. Lovely photographs and the story brought out many a smiles. Incidentally I suffer from owl envy as well. I managed to click a spotted owlet some days ago but it was too small, too far away and the light was quite poor. So you can imagine my frustration 🙂

    Like

  5. bhrrigu says:

    amazing. I am always so hooked to owls. It is so indulging to watch an owl and yes, having so many species of Owl in the world, one can spend the whole life photographing and observing. As far being envy is concerned, I envy all of you who have such wonderful collection and stories to tell.

    Like

  6. Jessica says:

    Wow! Now I’ve got owl envy… Beautiful flight photo!

    Like

  7. petbreederconnection says:

    Interesting! Recently my neighbour took his dog for a walk in the park at the top of our street. It was already dark and he was surprised by something swooping down and spooking the dog. When he looked up, a beautiful owl was sitting in the tree in front of him and he got some great pictures. I was so damn jealous. I had always wanted to see and owl. Even in Northern Ontario, where we spend a ton of time, I have never seen one, only heard them at night. So of course, I made a point of heading into the park every night. (I stopped myself short of borrowing the neighbours chihuahua for bait). Nothing.
    Finally I was sitting in the park one afternoon, watching the sky when I should have been watching the kids, and there it was. A huge bird of prey, whose weight made the top of the pine tree sway for a few moments. And then he took off. The only way to describe the feeling was blessed. Almost like the owl gave me a gift. I have never been one for birds really, until my father passed away 7 years ago. Since that time, the things I see birds do, and the timing of these events often leaves me wondering if there is more to it then just chance.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      That’s a great story. So often it seems that encounters with wildlife happen when we least expect it. I find those are such wonderful experiences. Glad you finally saw it.

      Like

  8. 1107photography says:

    These are wonderful! You have a gift for wildlife captures! Keep it up!

    Like

  9. Eric Neudorf says:

    Lyle! Your photos far exceded my expectations. They bring out the best in the world around us–the things that most of us lazy people would never get to see. God is good.

    Like

  10. rickbraveheart says:

    Boy, do I ever have owl envy! These are stunning, well composed and captivating shots Lyle and the eyes that are such an important part of any wildlife shot are bright and in perfect focus. Great Job! Sorry I’ve been unable to check out your blog for weeks due to an illness but I sure am glad I’m slowly feeling well enough to get back online and see what you’ve been up to. Thanks for taking us all along on your day in the field.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Glad you finally starting to feel a little better. That was a tough one. I appreciate the comments. It was so thrilling to find them and look into those lovely eyes.

      Like

  11. jude conning says:

    I love this post and you can replace the word “owl” for numerous subjects. My specific ones are “wolf” and “eagle”. Your images of the owl are exquisite and yes, I also suffer from owl envy

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Sorry for adding to your envy! I agree that replacing owl with a lot of wildlife would also work with me and I’ll take wolf and eagle would be a great way to start the list. Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  12. mflahertyphoto says:

    Wow Lyle these are awesome shots, so deserving of being on Freshly Pressed. I don’t think a Snowy would look as good with these backgrounds. I used to do educational presentations with an owl called Mariah, a great horned. Their wings have a sort of furry leading edge, which breaks up the wind and helps keep their flight silent. I had a talon stuck almost right through my finger once, so I can attest to their sharpness. Great Grays are awesome owls. Have yet to see one.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      I’m happy you liked the shots. I wish I could have been at one of your owl presentations – that would have been fun. I had heard about the furry edge – absolutely remarkable as are their talons!

      Like

  13. wordkate says:

    Reblogged this on See what you think and commented:
    I love the owl photo

    Like

  14. Kodiak My Little Grizzly says:

    So coooool! Very nice photos!

    Like

  15. melmannphoto says:

    Image of the owl in the tree is very nice. Love the contrast of green vs brown.

    Like

  16. Jeff | Planet Bell says:

    Those are brilliant photos. I love the bottom one and the photo with the owl in flight. Capturing birds in flight is never an easy thing to do.

    Like

  17. Mind Margins/Run Nature says:

    Absolutely gorgeous photos. I love when I’m running in the predawn hours and hear an owl hoot. They are so difficult to see!

    Like

  18. Phil Lanoue says:

    Wow tremendous photos of this magnificent owl. Lucky you to have the opportunity to see and photograph this beauty!

    Like

  19. caleephotography says:

    WOW, these are awesome!! I love owls, they’re so beautiful and impressive.. And maybe I’ve watched too much Twin Peaks, but I think they’re mysterious as well. Great, great shots Lyle!!

    Like

  20. danielyapsl says:

    Simply beautiful. Love the selection.
    Cheers
    D

    Like

  21. artsifrtsy says:

    I have Owl Envy. There are some in my woods and I see them in the mornings but have never gotten a good shot. I love that effortless flying they do in the woods. Gorgeous set!

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      I feel some of your pain. Seeing them regularly is an amazing treat but to be so close and not get the shot is frustrating. That flying is unbelievably effortless. So much fun to watch.

      Like

  22. melodylowes says:

    Oh, no – is ‘Owl Envy’ catching? 🙂 Simply stunning – love the flying shot especially. Your humour sets them apart, too. Nice.

    Like

  23. rachel bar says:

    As usual, I’m not sure what I like more: your writing or your pictures. Both are superb.

    Like

  24. owenslaterphotography says:

    Amazing photos Lyle! And you said you don’t have much patience? This leads me to think otherwise! Out here I have lynx envy…seems everyone is seeing them except me!

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks but I got quite fortunate. Patience is still an elusive partner! I have been seeing a lot of lynx photos but I console myself that there are no lynx out here. This envy thing is contagious and somewhat dangerous.

      Like

  25. Stefano says:

    Lyle, these are magnificent shots of such an elusive bird! Superb job!
    My favorite ones are the two with the green background and of course the one in flight!
    Fabulous.

    Like

  26. hannele says:

    they sure are stunning animals – and your photos do them justice!

    i went on an owl ecology course once when i studied biology. they are fierce creatures, too, and do anything to defend their young. the researcher climbing up the tree to collect data (weight and size of the young) wore several layers of protective clothing, in the middle of summer. us students just stood on the ground, informing him from which direction the mother was attacking. fun, and fortunately the researchers only disturbed the happy family once a year.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thank you. I could imagine that they would be quite fierce in that situation and they have some sharp weapons. I think it would be better to be the one watching that situation.

      Like

  27. doraiswamyganesh says:

    Dear friend, Only you could have taken these very beautiful shots ,and the one in flight is magnificent. I am forwarding them to my young friends. Regards, Ganesh.

    Like

  28. FeyGirl says:

    Ah, I adore owls…. Such fascinating creatures. And you’ve captured this one so beautifully!!

    Like

  29. Beth Fishkind Photography says:

    Absolutely beautiful! Great shots of a magnificent creature.

    Like

  30. Mike Powell says:

    As you suggest, your cure is only temporary. Your situation (and you are not alone) brings to mind a French proverb, “l’appétit vient en mangeant” (appetite comes while eating). Since you have tasted the fruit of your desire (yes, I know that an owl is not a fruit), your desire may only increase. Today it is a snowy owl. Who knows what’s next. More seriously, though, these are wonderful shots. I especially like the penultimate image. I’m not sure where I would find an owl, so for now I think that I will stick with hawk envy.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks. I think your French proverb is an interesting one that could apply to many things – even food. I think it would probably be better for my well being if I didn’t make an envy list!

      Like

  31. EhkStream says:

    I’ve just come down with a serious case of owl envy…
    Having yet to see a great grey, I thank you for having this experience and sharing it.
    Excellence!

    Like

  32. Scott Marshall says:

    I think I safely say I have only ever seen an owl at extreme distance and with no chance of a meaningful photograph – there is a place in the south of England where a particular species fly low over the field at twilight and people have been known to get some great shots – so collectively I get the special toy thing 🙂

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks. I think getting these shots is even more special when wildlife is aware of my presence but is fine with it and keeps right on doing its normal routine. An owl shot at twilight that turned out would be quite something.

      Like

  33. Seenorway says:

    Must havew been ‘your lucky day’, Lyle. And we don’t get too many of those 🙂

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Yes, so true. After quite a few “drought days” this one was particularly special. It is important to be thankful when it happens. Maybe that will be a post some day.

      Like

  34. The Earth Beneath My Feet says:

    Gorgeous shots with great atmosphere.

    Like

  35. Kyle Kuns says:

    Your post got me thinking about my early childhood pet great horned owls that were used in a Disney movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0963438/ My father caught them in the wild and trained one (we named Clubfoot) to do all the “pet like” indoor scenes and the other to do the more “wild” outdoor scenes. While there still are no videos available, I did find some movie stills on E-Bay tonight. Thanks for another typically great post!

    Like

  36. Gunta says:

    Lucky you (at last). I think owls are my favorite birds. I hear them around here occasionally, but have yet to even see one, much less get a shot.

    Like

  37. cathywagnerblog says:

    OneLogix – Your Specialist Logistics Service Provider Tel: 011 396-9040lFax: 011 396-9050lPostNet Suite 10, Private Bag X27, Kempton Park46 Tulbagh Road, Pomona, Kempton Park l http://www.onelogix.com Beautiful photos Lyle, especially the first one!

    Kind Regards,

    Cathy Wagner Financial Manager Vehicle Delivery Services Phone: 011 396-9064 Fax2Email: 0867 207 054

    When you see a man led to prison, say in your heart “Mayhap he is escaping from a narrower prison.” And when you see a man drunken, say in your heart “Mayhap he is escaping from something still more unbeautiful.” – Kahlil Gibran, poet and artist (1883-1931)

    Regards

    Cathy Wagner Financial Manager OneLogix (Pty) Ltd

    Phone: +27 11 396 9064 Fax: 0867 207 054 Mobile: +27 82 444 4133

    Like

  38. vanbraman says:

    Great shots. I am glad that you were able to find them. My best owl shots have come as surprises. http://bramanswanderings.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/owls/
    I do have some pictures I have taken in zoos, but they just don’t have the same feel as catching them in nature.

    Like

  39. Coloured-Windows by katleenj says:

    beautiful pictures and story
    and to me the owls eyes are full of photographic compassion

    Like

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