One day in March of 2010 I was discovering a new woodland I had not visited before. An elderly couple asked if I had seen “The Owl?” They lead me off trail to a dense thicket and showed me my very first Barred owl! I stayed with that owl for a couple of hours as he pretty much napped on his branch, occasionally looking down at me with amused eyes as I shivered in the snow. I went back the following two days and tracked him down in the thick of the bush, feeling pretty good about my abilities to find him again. As I usually do, I spoke constantly to him; “Hey buddy, how you doing today.” “Hey buddy, what’s up.” I am indeed a bit of a looney-tune in the bush, but I do believe animals have a sense of us and that gentle talking can intrigue and relax them. (Or maybe I just tell myself this so I don’t feel a little crazy.) Anyway, on the fourth day I could not find him perched anywhere is the section of forest we had been spending our time in. I walked around for 20 minutes calling his name and speaking constantly to him to come out and visit, but he was no where to be found. Then I turned towards a narrow clearing in the trees to go back to the trail and there he was, flying low, right towards me at eye level!! He was absolutely silent as he swooped in and landed on a low branch a few yards away from me looking right at me as if to say “you called!” I froze with a gaping but silent mouth. My dazed and amazed brain forgot to send a signal to my shutter finger and before I came around to my senses, buddy flew off again, back in the direction he had come.
For those of you who have asked what some of my greatest moments were photographing wildlife, I can’t say this is one of them. But it is certainly one of my greatest memories of missing the shot!