Verreaux’s Giant Eagle Owl
This magnificent bird came in to land in a tree about thirty metres away. I could see that it looked large, and that it was a bird of prey, but it was only when I trained the binoculars on it that I saw its characteristic feature. Pink eyeshadow.
I eased Phyllis a bit closer to the tree and started taking photographs. Warning: Photo techie bit starts here. Unfortunately, it was late in the afternoon and the bird was in shadow. Using the 100-400mm zoom lens at full stretch, with maximum aperture, at 1/500th of a second, I had to push the ISO to 3200. When I blew up the image to be able to see the owl, the photograph was too grainy. So being without a tripod, I wedged myself into the side window, put a bit of foam rubber over the door mirror and tried shooting at 1/40th of a second, ISO 400, again with the lens fully open. Techie bit finished.
The pictures are not spectacular, but give a good impression of what a marvellous bird this is. I have seen an adolescent eagle owl on a night drive. It was caught in the spotlight and didn’t know which way to turn. My video shows its head doing a 360. It ran off into the long grass, almost on tiptoe, angled forward. It reminded me of the French film star, Jacques Tati, playing Monsieur Hulot, striding against the wind (“Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday”). Again apologies for not including the video footage because of a ban on uploading to YouTube.
I was hoping to hear the call of the owl, which supposedly sounds like a pig grunting, but another safari vehicle came bouncing down the track and the owl flew off.