When You’re Not Even Looking

After a morning of capturing shots of Bald Eagles, Cedar Waxwings, Barn Swallows, Marsh Wrens and wild roses at Theler Wetlands, I was ready to call it a day. In fact, I think I’d turn off all those senses that are most alive when you’re consciously looking for wildlife. I was through for the day and heading home to my computer to see what kind of shots I’d actually gotten.

I checked out the flowers at the visitor center and started heading up the boardwalk to the car when I heard a sound I didn’t recognize, a very un-bird-like sound, almost a cat-like meow. I turned to see the Barred Owl Leslie and I had looked for several times in the last month but never found staring straight at me,

Barred Owl

softly mewing as if to get my attention.

I got several shots before it turned away, ignoring me.

Barred Owl

After a few minutes, though, both the owl and I turned at the sound of someone approaching.

Barred Owl

I turned to ask them if they wanted to see a Hoot Owl, but when I looked back it had disappeared as quietly as it had appeared. In fact, if I didn’t have photos to prove its existence I might have wondered if I’d just imagined it myself.

If it had been the only sighting of the day, it would have been a great day. Coming at the end of a long morning of great birding, it was the kind of climactic moment you live for.