Burrowing Owl

Happy Birthday Mom! by Walter Kitundu

I know owls are seen as bad luck in Tanzania... but they are the best of luck in the Bay Area and at Berkeley's Cesar Chaves Park. Not much can lift my spirits more than coming around a bend and seeing this face looking back at me. In the hopes that my delight can transfer through the internets and bring joy in Dar es Salaam, I offer these images as a birthday salutation. See you in a few weeks!

There were only a few minutes of light left when I saw this gleaming bird watching the sunset.

Maybe we will see some owls when we go to Ndutu. Happy Birthday Mom. Thanks for making everything I've ever known possible.

Golf Owls by Walter Kitundu

Burrowing Owls are adorable. They are also terribly photogenic, which means people often get too close while trying to get a picture. These disturbances can be problematic and it gets even more complicated when the birds take up residence on a busy golf course. Now the photographers are just one of many hazards to avoid. Standing at the burrow, cooly surveying the landscape... er, golf course.

I can see why people might flush them inadvertently. The park should do its best to help golfers and the general public know which areas to avoid.

I pride myself in being conscientious and careful but that didn't stop me from being surprised by an owl hiding in plain sight. I stepped away quickly.

Just another day on the fairway.

Shoreline Park Owls by Walter Kitundu

I had always heard there were Burrowing Owls at Shoreline Park but only got to see them last week. Leaving the park I saw a bird fly to ground in the distance and it had the feel of a Mourning Dove landing, or a female Kestrel pouncing on a bug. In the fading light the view through the binoculars revealed a vigilant Burrowing Owl.

Apparently they live in the sand trap. Click on the image to see in better detail. You'll be able to pick out the female just beyond and to the left of the burrow. (if you go looking for them, please respect their space and don't approach the burrow)

Keeping an eye on the burrow and hunting the golf course from a perch which affords a commanding view. The little sentinel was a wonderful surprise. I'm going to keep an eye out for him next time I'm in the area.