The Little Owl (Athene noctua)
As soon as I passed the gate, a chained and angry cattle dog jumped out of its doghouse (which was situated right under the tree the owl was in) and wouldn’t let me get close. I was more than startled to say the least. It was a big yard and I definitely needed to get closer but that was one loud dog, so I retreated a little but it wouldn’t stop. I had to actually cross the road again to make him stop barking!
I looked up at the trunk, and realized the owl had fled most probably due to the commotion, so I left knowing that a morning drive-by with a longer lens would probably give me a better chance. For the next few weeks, I kept an eye out for the owl, but I never saw him again until early one February morning in 2008 when I was heading for Kalloni.
As I passed the house I saw a car parked close to the tree, a couple at the front door, the dog sleeping next to the car and the owl on the top of the tree! I pulled over a bit further down and waited to see what the couple were up to. I was in luck, they were leaving. I grabbed my camera from the back seat, hooked up my modified TC14E teleconverter and my beloved Ais 500mm f/4P lens. I checked my settings and placed the camera and lens on my lap.
As soon as the couple passed by, I reversed until I was in line with the tree and pulled out the 500mm. I framed but was still too far and my view wasn’t very clear from a blossoming almond tree in between us. The owl was there and I could see that the lighting was going to be nice but I was too far away and in the wrong position.
I looked for the dog, but he was nowhere to be seen, obviously he had retreated to his bed. I was a little disappointed at the situation, because from where I was, it seemed that if I was in front of the tree, I might have had a better view of the owl with some good lighting. I looked again for the dog when I realized that the chain was leading out to nothing! The dog was gone! Wow, what a break, most probably the couple took the dog with them!
I immediately jumped out of the car and headed for the gate, which thankfully was open. I looked up at the trunk and the owl was there and showed no concern. I lifted the lens and slowly started approaching the tree without ever looking directly at the owl. Once a reached a certain distance I looked through the viewfinder, framed and took a few shots. I then lowered the lens a little and tried to change for a better perspective with a clearer view but the owl took off. Unfortunately, I never saw that owl again, so I only have the few shots from that particular visit.