It was almost too easy. I had stopped in front of the Beavercreek water treatment facility on Factory Rd. to see if anything exciting was ...

RBS - Mission Accomplished! - Narrows Reserve - Beavercreek, OH

It was almost too easy. I had stopped in front of the Beavercreek water treatment facility on Factory Rd. to see if anything exciting was in the area. This is usually a good place to spot Great Blue Herons nesting.

Today there were some young Northern Flickers and a baby Killdeer with its parents. There were also a lot of European Starlings, House Sparrows, and American Goldfinches. I fired off a couple of quick shots of the Killdeer baby (so cute!) and then headed on down Factory Rd. to the Narrows.

400mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 3200
I pulled into the parking lot at the Narrows at 7:40. By 7:47 I was taking pictures of the Barred Owls!! It was not easy to get good shots because the area is so shaded. Had to crank up the ISO and hold the camera REALLY still.

The first one sat fairly still while I approached the tree. Occasionally looking over it shoulder to see what I was up to. This was a young Barred Owl and it seemed more inquisitive than frighted.

It's sibling was in a different tree nearby. They were making lots of noise trying to get mom to feed them. At the time, mom was no where in sight. Just these two little guys.

Eventually they both flew off into the trees and I wandered around the parking lot seeing if anything else of interest was still out and about.

Bllue-Gray Gnatcatchers were in almost every tree, and a few cardinals were flying back and forth across the lot, but that was all.

400mm, f/6.3,  1/125, ISO 5000
A few people were still at the park, and as they walked to their cars, most of them stopped to ask what I was shooting so late with so little light. The others simply said, "Looking for the owls?" Spent some time talking to one couple who had never seen them before either. We hung out for a bit to see if they would come back.

Sure enough they came soaring silently into the trees at the edge of the woods and posed for photos. There were three this time. All I kept thinking was, "I really need to buy a flash!"

Instead, I had to fight the camera shake and make sacrifices with the ISO.

400mm, f/6.3, 1/60, ISO 6400
While standing and shooting the owl in the above photo I heard a rustling in the tree above me. I looked up to find one of them staring down at me. It was a mixed look - a combination of "what is this guy doing" and "I think we can eat him".

He seemed to get annoyed by the clicking of the shutter and flew off to another tree. It was exciting to watch them fly. I knew there was no chance of getting a flight photo in those lighting conditions, but it really didn't matter. I won't soon forget.

After about half an hour, they seemed to get used to me being there. They would land in the grass, too close for me to shoot, and then pounce of some unseen rodent or other source of food.

400mm, f/6.3, 1/60, ISO 6400
It was hard to keep track of the three of them as the hopped, jumped, and flew from place to place. As I turned to watch one fly off I came face to face with another.

I quickly scanned the parking lot and took a head count. There were four!! It was amazing that I had never seen even one before, now I was surrounded by them.

I cannot really express how exciting it was to experience these large birds just out having a good time. They never seemed startled or timid. The other couple that had never seen them before was able to get close enough to take pictures with their cell phones.

As it started to get darker, I thought about heading home so I could look at my photos and write this post, but I just couldn't seem to leave. It's not often you get to see something like this. Eventually I got back in my car, but then just drove around the lot looking at these amazing creatures.

400mm,  f/6.3, 1/160, ISO 6400
As I completed the circle and started up the access road, one landed in a tree by the road. It was as if it were saying goodbye, or "I still think we can eat him!"

I decided to make one more loop around the lot. I gave a little wave to each one, and then headed for home.

I would like to get a flash and go back tomorrow and see if they are still there. It is still plenty bright enough to see at that time of night, it's just near impossible to shoot any reliable images.

For now, though, I am very content, and have added #201 - Barred Owl to my Lifelist.

400mm, f/5.6, 1/25, ISO 3200

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