Marsh Owl

Cape Town has been fortunate enough to have a Marsh Owl roost at Rietvlei Nature Reserve near Table View.

This common resident has been showing very well in late afternoons quartering the grasses and sedges bordering the vlei in similar fashion to that of a Short-eared Owl.

Reports detailing sightings were flooding in and social media timelines were being filled with images of this owl so I decided to take a look for myself.

The location is very accessible with the only real problem being a deep ditch covered in reeds that needs to be crossed. On the other side the main obstacle is the long grass – in some places up to knee length in height.

I successfully made it into position and settled into the grass next to two other birders dressed from head to toe in camouflage! These guys weren’t messing around and I felt rather under-dressed in my jeans and K Way jacket! Please note there are ticks in the long grass so a close inspection at home is well advised!

As if on cue, the owl left its roost around 4pm searching for a meal. Marsh Owls use sonic waves (sound) as a primary means of locating prey in the long grasses by intently focusing its facial disc which acts as an aural amplifier.

This is another “tick” for my lifer list (a list people keep recording new birds spotted) and happy I managed to capture this record image albeit a heavy crop.

Marsh Owl.jpg

Till next time…