Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 09/16/2016

Photo taken on September  9, 2016

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Anne Elliott
wildlife rehabilitation
© All Rights Reserved
southern Alberta
near Lethbridge
previously Strix otus
© Anne Elliott 2016
Alberta Bird of Prey Centre
9 September 2016
Long-eared Owl
Asio otus
head shot
bird of prey
about 5 months old

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Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl
Coming across a Long-eared Owl in the wild is a huge thrill, as they are not often seen, but the next best thing is to see one in captivity at one of the wildlife rehabilitation centres. I think I have been lucky enough to see six or seven of them in the wild. This one lives at the Alberta Bird of Prey Centre in Coaldale, southern Alberta, and I think the lady said it was about five months old

"Long-eared Owls are lanky owls that often seem to wear a surprised expression thanks to long ear tufts that typically point straight up like exclamation marks. These nocturnal hunters roost in dense foliage, where their camouflage makes them hard to find, and forage over grasslands for small mammals. Long-eared Owls are nimble flyers, with hearing so acute they can snatch prey in complete darkness. In spring and summer, listen for their low, breathy hoots and strange barking calls in the night." From AllABoutBirds.

It had been a few years since my last visit to the Alberta Bird of Prey Centre - I've only been maybe three or four times - and I had been longing to go back. Much too far and all new driving territory for me to even think about driving there myself. However, six days ago, on 9 September 2016, that is exactly what I did. A friend had said she would come along, too, but she emailed me at 1:00 am that morning to say that she assumed the trip had been cancelled, as she hadn't heard back about the time to meet. In fact, I had sent two emails giving the time, so I don't know what happened there. Very unfortunate, as it would have been great to have had company on such a long drive, and I know she would have had fun with her camera.

I knew it would be a long day and further than I would normally drive - and in a brand new car that I have yet to learn to drive! It doesn't look or feel quite as new now, after travelling 481 km! Only got lost twice, one minor and the other major. Must have taken a wrong turn somewhere down south and I ended up in the city of Lethbridge, that I had very carefully planned to avoid. After driving for three and three-quarter hours, I finally arrived, to my huge relief.

Despite getting there later than I had hoped, I still had more than enough time to wander round the grounds and photograph the various raptors. Some were tethered out in a grassy area and others were in outdoor cages. Wonderful to get such a close look at the various majestic birds.

I took a slightly different way home via #845 (?), making absolutely sure that I didn't accidentally find myself in Lethbridge again and it wasn't too long before I found myself in the area that I had driven a few weeks ago, when I went SW of Vulcan to look for Common Nighthawks (without any luck).

Just so happy that I finally made myself do this drive. When I Googled the Centre's website, I had discovered that they were closing two days later for the winter. So, it was either a case of going the next day or not at all till next May onwards.

The very next day, 10 September 2016, I took my daughter on a long drive in Kananaskis. This was yet another place that I had longed to be able to drive for many years - and finally I did it! I had been lots of times with various friends, but this was the very first time I had ever driven myself. We had planned to do this a few weeks earlier, but then my car had major repairs that needed to be done. Instead, I knew I just couldn't put any more money into my 17-year-old car, and I ended up replacing it. So glad we went on this particular day, as it snowed the following day.

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