by underswansea


Willow and I had an interesting encounter a few nights ago. It was while camped just below the ridge. We were walking around looking for spots to take photos of the night sky. It was just about dark and a couple of the nights brightest stars had started to faintly shine in the sky. I was looking for snags and rocks that would make for interesting foreground in photos of the starry night. Willow has happily tramping around, taking inventory, sniffing the air and ground.

We saw an owl perched on a dead branch overhanging the rocks. It was of medium size about 15 inches high. Not nearly as big as a Grey or Horned Owl but not as small as a Burrowing or Pygmy owl. Because of the dim light it’s markings were indiscernible.

It made a lovely picture sitting there, however my camera was back at the camp a short walk back. Sometimes owls stay put for long periods of time, so thought I’d walk back and get my camera, with hope of getting a picture.

We hustled back. After grabbing the camera I realized the owl had followed us. It hovered above us, swooping down now and again. It crossed my mind for a moment that it may be interested in Willow, thinking she was a large rodent (sorry Willow if you read this). But that didn’t seem to make sense. I tried to get a picture of it flying but was not able to focus on a moving target in such low light.

We went about our business looking for photo sites. The owl kept up with us hovering, and occasionally swooping to within 10 feet overhead. Though it didn’t seem aggressive I did duck a few times. I felt it was being more curious than territorial. But you never can tell. Sometimes it would disappear for awhile and then reappear overhead

Finally it settled in a tree above our camp. I took the photo the photo shown at the top. By this time it was dark and had to set the camera to iso 6400 to get the picture. Of note, this is the first and only picture I’ve ever taken at 6400.

I believe it is a Northern Hawk Owl due to the long tail. However, I didn’t think they were found this far south in Canada.

An incredible encounter on an enjoyable night in the mountains.