One Shot

Great Horned Owl [Bubo virginianus] fledged young learning to fly; Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado

One shot, because sometimes that’s all you’ll get.

Searching an old cottonwood tree for Great Horned Owls that had nested in a crotch of the massive limbs, we spotted two of the fledglings on separate branches, there had been three. The tree is in the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado, a few hours from where we live. We had watched these owls grow from little white puff balls into tree bark mimics. As cryptically marked and colored as any creature can be, these owls are not always easy to see, even when you know they are there. Standing in the warm early summer breeze we kept straining to spot the third, binoculars in hand, cameras at the ready. With no warning (is there ever a warning with owls?) this newly fledged youngster flew on those silent wings to where we were, I think as surprised to see us as we were to see it. The image was made from pure reflex. The camera was new to me (bought used to try out) an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk11 with an Olympus 300mm f/4 lens (600mm equivelent). A hand holdable super telephoto, light weight (redundant?) with fast AF, seems to be a game changer. This rig is half the weight of our usual Nikon 500mm f/4 lens with a full frame DSLR and no tripod. After a few more images we quietly left the owls to the breeze and the quiet.

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