Another unpaved road. With a ditch alongside. Prime Burrowing Owl territory, I mused. We are still at Salton Sea. Having just bombed on locating the Blue-footed Booby, we are on another quest.
It wasn’t long before I spotted the burrowing owls. I stopped the jeep on the side of the road. Grabbed my gear and just I as I was about to point the camera to the birds, they flew. Far. Beyond photographic range. Muttering, I returned the equipment to the car. A silver Audi pulls up in front of us. Tall, balding guy comes out grinning.
“What were you shooting?” he asked.
“Burrowing Owls”, my somewhat surly reply.
He was soon joined by Lucia, his Filipina partner. They drove all the way from San Jose, we learned. To photograph birds at the Salton Sea. All four of us talked shop for a while.
“Look, a dead owl!”, Lucia exclaimed as they prepared to leave.
And there it was, the desiccated corpse of a young owl lying a few inches in front of their car.
Several hours passed. Sun beats on us mercilessly. Cynthia notices her sunglasses are missing. She looks everywhere. Practically turned the jeep inside out. Still nothing.
This is the fourth pair of sunglasses she lost. Fearing the wrath of the buying husband, she offers something I can’t refuse. She will find birds for me for the rest of my life. I did not refuse.
On the way back, I wanted to try my luck with the burrowing owls again. This time no owls. Nada. Zip. Zero. No live ones, that is. I see the dead owl. Something brown lying beside it. I sighed. I pointed the object to Cynthia. She jumps from the jeep. Grabs the brown thing. Waves it in front of my face. Smiling from ear-to-ear. No more birding guides for the rest of my life.
Nemesis No More! Luzon Scops Owl !
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