Close encounters of the feathered kind

African Scops Owl

When we visited the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park in June this year it wasn’t the big cats I was desperate to see – but the owls.

I adore owls, they are so regal, so proud and so stunningly beautiful. Their layers upon layers of feathers are a dream to both the macro and wildlife photographer, their eyes are hypnotic and their gaze almost terrifying – it is as if they can see into your very soul.

I had spent many an hour on the SANParks forums before travelling to speak to forumites about where and when to spot owls – and whilst on holiday there I spent every spare moment scanning the branches of trees and ‘camping’ outside nests in trees to see if I could capture a rare glimpse of the owls.

After a busy morning ‘owl spotting’ around Nossob we retired for lunch. I’d retreated into the kitchen to start preparing the food and was about to head out to the braai when I saw my husband frantically arm waving, asking me not to leave the building. I was very confused. We attempted to lip read and I, somehow, interpreted that a porcupine was outside the door… I lay flat on the floor and inched open the door, peering tentatively around it. There, on the patio, was a tiny scops owl. I’d been looking all morning and here he was, literally, on my doorstep. We looked at each other eye to eye- neither one quite understanding nor expecting to see the other. I daren’t breathe or move, I was close enough to almost touch him. It was an incredible close encounter of the feathered kind.

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