By Stefanie Rach
Something rustled outside in the branches above the roof of my rondavel. Should I go and see what animal was on the move? I spent a few nights at a camp in the middle of a reserve in north-eastern South Africa. I knew that a leopardess had her territory nearby. So it was not safe to go out at night.
Curiosity won out.
I took my torch and carefully opened the door. Again there was a rustling in the Knobthorn tree. I shone the beam of my torch into the canopy and then along a branch. And there I saw it: a Barred Owlet sitting on the branch and looking down at me. I briefly considered getting my camera. But before I could turn towards the door, the Owlet flew away. Too bad…
The following morning I sat in front of my rondavel to enjoy the sun. Crickets were chirping, birds were twittering and a bush squirrel scampered past and quickly climbed up the next tree. Suddenly a “purr-purr-purr” came from the bushes behind the roundabout. I recognised this call immediately: Barred Owlet.
These little owls are mostly nocturnal, but you can sometimes hear them calling during the day. So I grabbed my camera and made my way through the bushes to look for the owlet. It wasn’t long before I saw it sitting on a low branch. It looked at me with wide eyes, probably wondering if I was friend or foe. In order not to startle it again, I kept my distance and slowly raised the camera. Set the shutter speed, focused – and that’s how this photo was taken.
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