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Follow the Poop

Although I have no photographic evidence of poop, I swear it is the way to find birds in tall trees! I suspect in a few years I'll see someone has clicked on this post and wonder to myself, what the heck was that about? Today, however, I know just what it means.

Yesterday morning, dressed already in my biking outfit, I allowed myself to become entangled in the World Wide Web, this time on decorating topics. Specifically, pom pom trim on white draperies. Another day...

Anyway, the doorbell rings, and it is Sue who immediately grabs her phone out of her bike basket, saying, "you've got to see this!" Was I ever jealous when she showed me a photograph on her phone of a big, fat, owl sitting smack dab in front of her on a hedge. So, so close, her hands were shaking.

We spent the next hour catching up as it has been far too long since we saw each other, mostly because her increasingly successful vintage wedding rental company is taking more and more of her time. When it was time for her to leave, I got on my bike to ride her home, but first we took a little detour to see if we could see an owl again as it was just across the road on a street in the beautiful Southern Oaks neighborhood. Parking our bikes on the sidewalk, we begin scanning the overhead trees with no success. After a while, I'm about ready to give up, however, Sue wants to keep looking and so we do, splitting up between the two yards where they have been spotted in the past. Looking up is good, but looking down is the real ticket. Big, fat, white spots of poop on the driveway, or sidewalk, is a sure sign.

Anyway, Sue is about two houses away from me when I almost freak out seeing this little guy on the side of a tree.
Not wanting to scare it away I remain silent while trying to figure out how to set my camera! Auto should do it, but, it did not--too dark. I changed the ISO setting to 1000 (film speed in old days), still it was not great, but when presented with a shot of a lifetime, you just keep going, hoping you can lighten it up. Sue started coming my way, asking if I saw something. Nodding and putting my finger to my lips, she came closer, but not before he scooted up the tree.
It took me a little bit before I realized it was an owlet, maybe half grown? He grabbed onto the tree for support, looking straight at the camera! 
The two of us just stood there in awe of nature. Before long he made a leap, flying to an adjacent tree.
Pretty big wings for a juvenile, but don't take my word for it, I know nothing about owls! I do recognize the down of a youngster however. From there he took another leap of faith, and flew way up overhead. From the poop spots we found both the mother and father, or so that's what we think. As you can imagine, the two of us were pretty darn excited. 

It was on my bike ride home that I remembered what setting I could change on the camera to really adjust the outcome--exposure compensation! Rarely do I ever do anything like that but in this case I had to give it a try, going back in the afternoon to check on the baby. It works! Much better.
Now you can really see all his downy cuteness! That said, I will NEVER, EVER, get a shot like the tree hugging one. I watched him awhile, finding the parents all in the same tree, unlike before when they were spread between three trees. That said, I can only find two in this shot, whereas yesterday I thought I saw three. How about you?
While watching little guy, I saw him start to walk along the branch and nearly fall while doing so!
See his little beak, and one wing out, trying to get his balance again? Ah...the cuteness!

Waking up this morning I had grand plans of going back for another session of watching until I came across the note, written just last night (!), beside my tea kettle--dentist @ 8 for a cleaning. Bummer.

So, instead of owls, and because they are near the dentist office I took a little drive through the peacock neighborhood. My word there are a bunch of juvenile males over there! How would you like your front yard to look like this?
Their feathers are growing--this guy already has his.
I always find the back nearly as intriguing as the front, don't you?  Imagine supporting all that...Look who walked by, ignoring the peacock's best effort?
So, those couple of streets have at the very least 50 roaming peacocks who can be quite loud. Closer to home, the other day Bruce called out to me, saying, "honey, there is a bird eating your flowers!" A first, I had to see it for myself, not that I doubted him or anything, but it is so unusual. The camera does not lie.
Before long there was nary a red bloom on that salvia!

Matt posted just the other day about their garden in London with multiple blooming fruit trees filling the air with a lovely fragrance. In an example of the apple does not fall far from the tree, I had been thinking earlier that same day about how fragrant it has been around here, what with the magnolias blooming, as well as the flowering shrubs. Bonus points for a Monarch!
 On that same huge ligustrum, there was this adorable little moth.
Oh shoot, I forgot to post one more peacock photo that I thought might interest you. Rarely have I seen one fly, lots of walking and strutting, but flying, not so much. After parking my car, I saw one in a tree that before long flew to the ground. Although the photo is blurry, what interested me is that now I know what those brown feathers are for!
Looks like my hands were shaking too! That said, I can see the peacocks any day of the week, but an owlet??? I may be obsessed...

So, those are my tips for the day--follow the poop when stalking for big birds, and use exposure compensation when your camera thinks you have adequate light, and you know that you don't. I ended up at +2.

May an owlet sighting be in your future, not to mention a friend named Sue!

Gail



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