The silent hunter strikes again.
My breakfast, a chorizo omelette stuffed with some salsa and some cheese along with some fried potatoes had been good but now the great outdoors was beckoning me to come out and play. After getting dressed appropriately (the outside temperature was -20 C) I grabbed my camera, checked the battery charge and jumped into my Subaru. The drive to Cottonwood Park was a short one like usual and the parking lot was empty with the exception of one station wagon whose owners were just disappearing on the other side of the bridge crossing the slough. Low patches of fog were drifting about aimlessly across the frozen Nechako River and the sun had just started to rise. I started my walk across the bridge along the ploughed walkway. Then I heard some voices coming toward me. It turned out to be the owners of the station wagon who were returning. Was it too cold for them? I did not care and kept going. The snow made crunching sounds under my boots and there was a cold breeze biting into my face. Even squirrels were not out in the cold. I now approached the first “viewpoint” along the way. The fog was quite thick across the riverbed but the sun made a valiant effort trying to burn it off which made for some interesting lighting effect. I squeezed off a few frames before moving on. It was too cold to stay in one spot too long. Crunch, crunch, crunch. I grew concerned that the noise the snow made under my boots alarmed animals of my presence but I just kept going. There were no other sounds and the thought that there were no animals out today had crossed my mind when I saw some movement just ahead of me in the thick brush. All I saw was a head with two tufty ears from behind. Was it a lynx perhaps? I had seen them before but it did not quite look right. I brought up my camera. Even In full zoom it was inconclusive. And then it turned its head. No, it was not a lynx but a great horned owl that stared back at me. Its face was blood stained and some fur was stuck to it, covering its right eye. I took several shots before changing my position. I kept alternating between shooting and position change to get a better angle, when I noticed someone approaching from the other direction. I tried to motion him to stop but he did not notice me until it was too late. The owl flew up into a nearby tree from where it watched us suspiciously. I now had a chance to examine the owl’s quarry. It had been a rabbit whose life had come to a gruesome end by the sharp talons and beak of the owl. Right now there was nothing to see here so I kept going along the trail. Once out of visual range I stopped, waited for a few minutes and then headed back. Just as I had hoped the owl had reclaimed the rabbits carcass and was feeding on it. There were also several magpies hanging out now, looking for some leftovers. There was now a clear line of sight to the owl and I spent some more time with it. Once I thought that I had worn out my welcome I thanked the owl for posing for me and moved away. I hoped she enjoyed her meal. When I returned approximately an hour later the rabbit was all but gone. Only some fur and some bloodstains marked the spot where it had met its demise.
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