I got sidetracked on my burrowing owl quest

It’s amazing what you can see on Wyoming’s prairies if you just take the time to look. Sometimes you have to look closely, but there’s a lot of life out there.

I tend to get a little obsessed when I decide to try to get photos of a certain type of animal. Sometimes it pays off, and days, weeks or months of stalking a critter pays off eventually with a good photo of it. Granted, sometimes that leads to another obsession – to get photos of that animal in different light conditions, with different backgrounds, or doing different things.

And sometimes, like what happened recently, I get sidetracked.

Burrowing owl
Unless they’re sitting on a fencepost or standing on top of their burrows, burrowing owls can be hard to spot. And when you see them, chances are they’ll be watching you closely. Photo by Ty Stockton, Bobwire-S.com

About a month ago, I set out to find some burrowing owls. I called a bunch of landowners I know whose land is likely burrowing owl habitat, and I asked if they knew where any were. I got a few tips, but they didn’t ever pan out. I kept searching, but less and less religiously. I was still on the lookout for owls in my travels across the state, but I was starting to get a bit sloppy about it.

Then a few days ago, I caught a funny shape out of the corner of my eye just off the county road leading to my house. I stopped the truck and looked closer. There, about 30 yards off the road, were two badgers looking back at me. Before I could get out of the truck and take a picture, they were gone.

I spent the next several days trying to get pictures of those badgers. I got up early, stayed out late, and kept creeping around where their burrow was. But no luck. Then, the other night, as I was giving up on the badgers for the day and heading home, I caught another shape on the periphery of my vision. I looked again, and there it was. A burrowing owl.

So my obsession came full-circle. I’m still in full-on burrowing owl mode, but I figure I’ll get what I want of the owl, then switch back to the badgers. That’s the beauty of Wyoming – there’s always something to chase out there on the high plains.