Sunday, November 27, 2005
A study in grey
If gulls are a study in black and white then owls are a study in grey. Close up you can see the browns and whites of the Barred Owl but from a distance, when you first spot them, they are just a big grey blob. Everything was one shade of grey or another today. Even though it was the middle of the afternoon when I went over to the Point the sky was so heavy with clouds that it seemed like dusk. The trees were all grey branches, the sky was grey, and even the mood was a subdued grey as I walked about in the silence of the snowed landscape. This was the first Barred Owl that I have seen at the Point and the second one that I have seen in my lifetime (the other was on Amherst Island earlier this fall). Birds can be difficult to spot at the best of times. Most often it is movement that attracts our attention and then we can pick them up with the binoculars. Spotting an owl that is stationary and that blends in so neatly with its background is more difficult. What you are looking for is not an owl but a shape. You look for something that doesn't fit in with the skeleton of the tree and its bare branches. I'm not surprised that I saw another Barred Owl so soon after I saw my first one. I remember Pamela over at Thomasburg Walks commenting that once you've seen a species for the first time you begin to see them again and again. You get an eye for them and the mind remembers certain connections. This is one bird that I hope will keep coming up because it is a truly noble sight as it surveys its hunting grounds with "owlish solemnity."