Short-eared Owl Takeoff

My first of year Short-eared Owl flight shot is always somewhat of a milestone for me.

 

1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

I’m finally seeing a few more “shorties” in northern Utah this spring. Last year was a banner year for them around here and I’m still not sure this year will be as productive for them (and for me) as 2016 was but things are beginning to look up a little.

Two days ago I photographed this one perched on a metal post. I’d had several opportunities earlier that morning but they always took off away from me. This bird stared directly to its left for some time so I thought it was going to take off after prey in that direction which had the potential to give me an interesting twisting takeoff and a nice side view in flight.

 

 

1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

But as they often do this owl didn’t follow my script and at the last second pushed off almost directly at me…

 

 

1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

and then during the first down-stroke of its wings it split the difference between a right angle and a head-on takeoff and flew off obliquely to me. In the shot just prior to this one in the burst those incredibly long wings were almost perfectly vertical and I clipped both of them. The story of my life…

In the interest of full disclosure: The tip of another metal post poked into the frame at lower right and it was so ugly and distracting I got rid of the damn thing. Another seduction chalked up by the clone tool.

Because of all of our spring rains (we had another downpour last night) the countryside is finally greening up enough that my backgrounds are no longer that same old dead vegetation color that I’ve become weary of. The change is a welcome one.

Ron

 

Addendum: I’m adding this photo in response to a request from Marty K in a comment below. I remembered incorrectly when I wrote my text – I didn’t cut off both wings, only one. And as you can see, one eye is mostly shut.

However there’s something interesting about that eye. I don’t often see a photo of an owl, or any bird for that matter, where an eyelid is half closed and the nictitating membrane is also have closed at the same time.

 

 

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