Friday, August 2, 2013

Sunrise in the Desert

San Diego is fantastic destination for a summer vacation with the family, especially if grandma and grandpa live there. But for the a nature photographer summer is actually the slow time of the year in San Diego. You see San Diego is the winter home to millions of birds that spend their summers in the Arctic, birds like waders and terns, but they are joined (well maybe pursued is more correct) by thousands of birds of prey like eagles, falcons, hawks etc.

So for our second summer in San Diego we were fast running out of unusual subjects for our photography. So Johan and I got up at 4:00AM, loaded the VW camper with all our camera gear and headed for the desert in hopes of finding some burrowing owl families. It was actually late in the season for this, so the odds were against us, but what the heck; we're on vacation. We drove towards El Centro and went looking along the irrigation canals in the area and sure enough we found a few owls and even one small family...

Two juvenile (C & R) and one adult (L) burrowing owls
As we drove slowly along the deserted roads we were surprised to find a rather noisy wader; a black-necked stilt. Normally these birds can be found in shallow waters along the coast, but there must also be a population living at the Salton Sea which is not so far away. Still I had a hard time figuring out what this individual was doing here, there can't be that much food in the irrigation canals. The continued warning cries made it pretty clear that there must be a chick nearby and sure enough looking down into the canal the stilt was standing on we caught a glimpse of a tiny stilt chick running for cover. We decided to leave mom and her chick in peace and continue on our search for owls...

Black-Necked Stilt
As luck would have it we did find a few more; even as the temperatures approached 90 degrees (32 degrees). Unfortunately by 9:00AM the heat distortion made it useless to photograph the owls from as close as ten meters and instead we went looking for a cool place to enjoy our breakfast before heading back to San Diego. 

One of the last individuals we ran into was quite bold and scolded us continuously, more or less telling us to get lost,  I couldn't resist filming him/her. Slowly opening the side door to the VW camper, I was able to lie on the floor and film from about 15 meters.


  1. Verkligt käcka individer, dessa prärieugglor. Som jag önskar de kunde hitta hit till oss. Lite påminner de om tidiga TV-karaktärerna Humle&Dumle. Dess läte i filmklippet golvade oss nästan, vilken charmerande skatt! Högsta klass som vanligt på bildmaterialet, alltid ett nöje att finna din blogg uppdaterad.
    / Deerhunter

  2. Hej Michael
    Som vanligt ett fantastiskt inlägg på arter som man inte ens vågar drömma om. Säger som Klas att ugglorna har verkligen ett charmerande skratt.
    Ha en fin fortsättning på sommaren