Taking time out with Spotted Eagle-Owls

Alas, there has been another long break in my posting to this website over the past weeks. This has not been because of another trip overseas (sadly 🙂 ), but simply because the pace of everyday activities just got so hectic, that blogging had to take a back seat for a while.

Having finally had a chance to catch my breath, I decided that a virtual sojourn to a remote and peaceful place was just the thing for my next post. (A bit like having a holiday without having to pack or travel anywhere!) Looking through my photos, I came across two that immediately reminded me of a magical moment in just such a place – Kruger National Park.

It was 5 years ago now (how time flies) and we were feeling the intense heat of the January morning as we pulled up on a small bridge to see what wildlife we could spot in the riverbed area. One of my keen-eyed companions spotted these two owls sitting on a branch about 60m (65 yards) away. They were difficult to see without binoculars as they were so far off, but with the aid of a zoom lens, we were able to get some good photos.

Two Spotted Eagle-Owls sitting on a log in the distance. They are well camouflaged despite being out in the open.

Two Spotted Eagle-Owls sitting on a log in the distance. They are well camouflaged despite being out in the open. This photo was taken with a powerful zoom lens.

So what was so special about two owls on a log? Well they were the first owls I had ever seen! I was able to watch them for some time, as they sat in the sun, lazily opening an eye every now and again, but mostly just dozing. I was fascinated at their size and the way they were contentedly sitting out in broad daylight as opposed to being in a shady dark space in a tree somewhere (which is where I thought most owls would prefer to be during the day).

A similar photo, but digitally zoomed even closer than with the large lens on the camera. This made identification easy.

A similar photo, but digitally zoomed even closer. This made identification easy.

The pair were Spotted Eagle-Owls or Bubo africanus – the most common ‘large-eared’ owl in the Kruger region, with a distribution right across Southern Africa, according to my bird book. But common or not, it was a memorable moment for me as I am particularly fond of owls. I have seen a few more in Kruger since this time, but none out in the open and so easy to watch. What a treat!

(This post is part of the series on African animals that I have seen and enjoyed over the years. For other similar posts, please use the Wildlife > Africa menu at the top of this page).

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8 Responses to Taking time out with Spotted Eagle-Owls

  1. drawandshoot says:

    Owls are so beautiful, aren’t they? there are 2 great horned owls (I think) nesting not too far away. It always amazes me how they start nesting in March when there is still snow on the ground and cold, cold nights.

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    • Madoqua says:

      Karen, I agree that there is something special about owls. I can understand why the saying “Wise old owl” – they certainly have an air of superior knowledge, patience and wisdom!

      It is fascinating that your local owls are nesting already. Judging by the photos you are posting, it must still be very cold where you are. One would think that the chicks would run the risk of getting frozen. But maybe it is timed so that food sources are plentiful in spring when the chicks would be needing a lot to eat. They would probably take a lot of feeding!

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  2. Ian Fraser says:

    Lovely pics. I think a reason they were so conspicuous is that they are not much more than chicks – see the very short ear tufts and the general fluffiness. Probably not long out of the nest and I’d suggest that the wiser parents were nearby but well out of sight. And speaking of wisdom (as you did) I can’t help but wonder if, being mere humans, we don’t associate them with wisdom because, unlike most birds their eyes face forwards – like ours…

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    • Madoqua says:

      Ian, thanks for your comments. I did not think that they may be chicks, but you could well be right. Would certainly explain their ‘careless’ perch during daylight hours!

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  3. restlessjo says:

    Funny how we’re all looking backwards at present, Madoqua. I have never seen an owl outside of captivity. This must be a magical sight.

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  4. KnitNell says:

    Recently one early eve we had an owl sitting in the oak tree at the end of our garden ‘hooting’ loudly and for some time. In the far distance we could hear another owl replying but with a different pattern of ‘hoot’. This dialogue continued for approx 15.min. Magical and this is within one of the most crowded areas of the UK – not the sticks!

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    • Madoqua says:

      KnitNell, that is so amazing. You must have been entranced and felt to special! It’s like being given a rare window into a whole different world I think!

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