There was a lot of excitement last month when three Short-eared Owls were spotted on Longenbaugh West Road on the Katy Prairie. Within a few days it seemed that every local birder had seen the birds. Every local birder except me, that is. I made three early morning trips to the site but didn't see any of the owls.
Then another pair of Short-eared Owls turned up a couple of miles further east, on Porter Road. I tried again. This time, after a couple of unsuccessful trips, I finally managed to see one of the birds - but only for a few seconds, and at a distance, and in near darkness. Not very satisfying!
Yesterday morning I went back to Porter Road in hopes of getting a better look. I arrived at 7:20 and immediately spotted one of the owls scouring a field west of the road. The second owl appeared and I watched for several minutes as the pair crisscrossed the field. I was thrilled to get some reasonably clear photos.
One thing that surprised me was the length of the owls' wings.
As I watched over the next 15 minutes, every so often the two birds would fly directly towards each other. Then, just when they looked certain to crash into each other, they would both switch into a steep climb and then stop, to hang in the air for a moment, face to face and only a foot or two apart. Quite a sight!
After 25 minutes of watching the owls, they moved away to the far side of the field and I decided it was time for me to go to work. I got in my car and started to leave. However, I had driven only a few yards when I noticed that one of the owls was now heading back my way. I leaped out of the car and took more photos as the bird flew past me, crossed the road and started scouring the opposite field.
It just goes to show that, where birding is concerned, if at first you don't succeed, try again - and again - and again - and ...