It was out into the dusk today with Mark Glenshaw, the Owl Man of Forest Park. Yes, yours truly and a band of four other intrepid souls armed with only 60 pounds of photo gear took on Mother Nature’s most fearsome aerial predator as we walked with Mark, our fearless leader, deep into the ancient forests of America’s premier urban park. Well, maybe not ancient, but older than me and I’ve had some young punks tell me that I was older than dirt. But there we were, looking for a raptor that sits at the top of his food chain, eager to digitally encode some, at least, of the sun’s rapidly diminishing photons reflected by his fearsome form.
It is true that we had little to fear from Charles, the charming and beautiful beast that soars so silently through the night sky looking for someone to eat. Humans are usually considered by owls to be too big a prey to bother with, and with an abundance of rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, bats, opossums, ducks, geese and other such creatures waltzing around the park in a succulent and appetizing way, humans rarely tempt the big bad lords of the sky.
Mark filled us in on the habits and characteristics of the Great Horned Owl as we set off from the Visitor Center to find Charles and Samantha, the rulers of the Forest Park night sky.
“They’re big and bad.” he told us, though maybe not in so many words. “And they can take down a small dog, or a cat.”
We found Charles snoozing in a pine tree, and Samantha was not far away. They duetted for a short while, with Charles declaring his undying love and faithfulness and Samantha retorting that she had a headache, so not tonight.
“And bring me something to eat!” she demanded. Then she took off.
We found her later, hunched in a tree at the bottom of the hill, still harping on the hunger issue. Charles, we assumed, was out scaring up some breakfast, since, after grooming himself and giving our group the once over, he took off toward the Zoo.
By that time we ourselves were getting cold and hungry. Mark said something about a martini, so we figured it was time to split. You can join us next time!