It was morning and I was out setting up my gear to photograph hummingbirds when I heard a strange sharp, growling bark. Certainly nothing that I could recognize, a Grey Fox maybe. They make some pretty bizarre sounds when they have mating on their minds. Or a large animal hacking a bone out of its throat. I spent some time peering into the morning sun, brilliant across a shoulder of Indian Mountain, trying to figure out what was there. This was a little like looking into the remains of night, dark shadows hiding cracked granite walls and forested slopes from the dawn light. There was, in the top of a pine back-lit by that same sun, something, indistinct, pale, dying needles maybe. Binoculars helped a lot, it wasn’t withering needles. It was a Great Horned Owl and a young one from what I could tell. And then I discovered another one. Two owls.
This was one of those “gimme” moments, too easy, too good to pass up. So I hauled my trusty 500mm lens across the wash and up the hill to photograph them. The weird calls were still coming from the owls with long silences between. As I approached the nearest, an adult owl flew out from a brush covered rock outcrop and flew around the shoulder of the hill. The youngsters didn’t follow. Enjoyed the unlikely spectacle of the newly fledged owls, taking images of them illuminated by the warm sun. I left them there and headed back to the hummingbirds.