When I first got to the Venice Rookery on Saturday, I had to drive through a crowd of photographers all gathered together a ways up the road from the island. I figured it was some sort of tour or group planning some other event, so I didn't pay a lot of attention. Later on, someone down at the lake told me what the big deal was. A pair of great horned owls had taken over what had been an osprey nest in previous years and were raising a family. So I grabbed my camera and walked slowly back up the road. I couldn't see anything in the nest, but I finally found one of the parents in a pine tree across the street. Well, I didn't find him, someone who was already shooting his picture pointed him out to me.
I almost couldn't believe my eyes. There, right above me, was a bird I had never seen before in the wild. He was just sleeping the day away, almost oblivious to the crowd of photographers and bird watchers gathered beneath him. Notice that in all these photos, he doesn't even open his eyes. He'd turn his head once in a while, and occasionally ruffle his feathers, but he never opened his eyes any wider than a lazy squint.
This guy was probably 16 to 18 inches high, but it was a little hard to tell since he was 20 feet up in a tree. You wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley, that's for sure.
I guess this isn't his best side. I shot hundreds of pictures of this owl, so this is only the first of several posts featuring the great bird.