Sunday, February 12, 2017

Great Horned Owl at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge

It's been a long time since we've been able to make a birding trip (which I complained about yesterday) but today we had a chance to sneak away for a couple of hours. We ended up on the Tule Elk Auto-tour at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge south of Turlock in the Great Valley. The road follows the edge of the Tule Elk enclosure and parallels Salt Slough, a tributary to the San Joaquin River, and offers views of grasslands and riparian habitats. We saw a fair number of interesting birds, but my favorite shot of the day was a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) that was watching us while we explored one of the fishing holes on Salt Slough.

The refuge was, for the first time in five years, looking...wet. It's been a tough period for birds and other animals that make the refuge home, but the heavy rains this season have caused the luxuriant growth of grasses on the prairie.

It's always a pleasure to spot an owl. Can you see it in the picture below?

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