...specifically birds of prey! Even more specifically, owls. I did my research, got a pair of binoculars, and took our camera lens with the best zoom out for my first attempt! I also took my super-supportive husband who puts up with all of my random ideas.
Things started off pretty slow with a few geese and some gorgeous scenery.
But our bird watching picked up quickly when we spotted a hawk on a fence post!
We saw another one just a little ways down the road!
This guy was feeling very photogenic and gave us some great shots.
Now here comes the amazing part of our journey. I had really, really wanted to see an owl that day. I did my research and knew generally where they liked to hang out. It was getting to be dusk, and we still hadn't been able to spot one. I had heard they were pretty hard to see, so I didn't have very high hopes that we'd end up finding one.
We were on the freeway driving home when I saw a spot not far from an exit that I thought would be perfect for owls. We got off the exit and decided to check just one last time for the day. We were cruising like total sketchy people through a parking lot when a cute old couple drove up beside us. I was hanging out the window looking at a bunch of trees with my binoculars, and the man leaned out his window too. He shall, from here on out, be known as "miracle man." I almost died when I heard what he said.
Miracle Man: "Hey! Are you looking at the owl in that tree over there?"
Me: "Wh...What?!? WHAT?!"
Man: "Yeah! There's an owl in that tree! Just across the river. We come here almost every day to see it."
Me: *jumps out of car* "SKLJDLAKJLFDJSKFJSKJSALKJLDKASJ"
Man: "Yep! Just right in that tree!"
Me: *tears in eyes* "Oh my gosh oh my gosh it's an owl!!!!"
Me: "This is the best day of my life!!!!"
Me: "THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!"
Man: "You're welcome. Enjoy!" *drives away probably straight off into heaven*
And that's the story of how I saw my very first wild owl of my whole life.
Well...that's almost the whole story. It turns out, we could just see the owl's silhouette from the side of the river we were on. Now that might be enough for most owl enthusiasts, but not this one. This was my first real owl sighting, and I was going to make the most of it. Daniel and I drove around to the other side of the river to try and get a closer look. Unfortunately, we were met with a barbed wire fence and a giant "No Trespassing" sign. But did that deter this owl lover? Not a chance. We hopped the fence, and ran about a quarter mile down the riverbank through mud and slush and came face-to-face with this absolutely gorgeous creature in the most magical light I could have ever imagined.
When we got a little too close for his comfort, he even flew to another branch to give us a better view! He was winking at us ;)
It was amazing to see an owl up close in the wild. It was also kind of addicting. In fact, I have seen no less than SIX additional owls since this first sighting! So if you ever want to take up owling, you know who to call ;)