|Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, ISO 1600 F4 1/50 sec hand held|
taken after the sun had just set.
I know where to get it but had not set it up yet. My friend Tom Langschied from the King Ranch came riding in like a knight in shining armor with an offer of an owl on the King Ranch.
We set up the time to get the owl late on Sunday afternoon while I was on the way home from the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival.
Regretting the now hour early sunset since daylight savings time ended last weekend we arrived at the Norias Division Gate about 5 pm in the very low in the sky sunlight.
The ranch tours for the festival had found owls everyday so Barbara our guide had a bead in where to find one. As we walked to the site a not too distance Great Horned Owl gave a Hoo-hoo-hoooo call. I remarked that didn't sound good, small owls don't like big owls. Barbara assured me that wasn't going to be a problem.
We walked and I whistled for the pygmy-owl. I was having trouble with a scratchy throat so Barbara reverted to a recording. We walked and listened hearing at first just Northern Bobwhite.
Then we hard what we thought was a tentative response of a distant pygmy-owl. We moved a little closer and an owl started calling close behind us in the opposite direction. Score! Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl is Year Bird 473! I'm sure I was grinning ear to ear.
We had to work a bit to get good looks at this Inca Dove sized owl. It was getting dark, but could I get a picture? I cranked the setting on the camera to the most sensitive, ISO 1600, aperture priority F4. manual focus at 1/50 of a second. Hand held. After several tries I did manage a usable portrait of the owl. It's not going to make the cover of Birding Magazine, but it will make for a great memory.
Icing on the cake, two more owls started calling across the road from this guy for a total of 3 Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls!
Special thanks to Tom Langschied of the King Ranch for making this happen. If you want to see this Owl, the King Ranch Nature Tours are the way to go.