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Sunday, June 9, 2019

Marsh Owl Hunting near Cape Town

Marsh Owl | Vleiuil | Asio capensis

Frieda and Jan Prinsloo were on walkabout when they noticed a Rock Kestrel diving into the reeds.  It was clearly disturbed by something.   We first read about this sighting of a resident Marsh owl at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in the Western Cape. 

When they approached they managed to get a few photos of a marsh owl.  This was soon circulated on social media and had the local birders scrambling to get this one ticket off.

We have seen almost all the local owl species and we were very excited after learning about this new find close to home.  Adding this one to our list became high on our agenda as this would be another lifer for us.

We were no different and after a quick check on the weather and obtaining a pinpoint on where to view this uncommon owl species here in Cape Town, we loaded our camera gear and hoped for the best.

As luck would have it, the weather turned out to be perfect with bright sunlight and a light wind blowing, we spotted owl.

The Marsh Owl has been recorded on a regular basis from about 16h30, when it starts to hunt and we were all ready waiting for the action to unfold.

Thanks to Trevor Hardaker who knew the lay of the land and got us into the best possible position to obtain these images.  It was not easy, rushing around in the scrub with our gear, but we were very fortunate and grateful for a wonderful one hour display of this magnificent owl hunting.

35–38 cm; 230–370 g
A plain brown, medium-sized owl with a buff-coloured or greyish face, small ‘ear' tufts and dark brown eyes. In flight, wings broader than African Grass Owl, with much larger buff ‘windows' in primaries, less contrast between coverts and flight feathers, and pale trailing edge to secondaries and outer primaries. Underwing has dark carpal marks; tail barred. Voice: Harsh, rasping ‘krikkkkrikkk', likened to sound of material being torn. Status and biology: Common resident and nomad in marshes and damp grassland; avoids dense reed beds. Often circles overhead after flushing. Less nocturnal than most other owls; sometimes roosts in flocks.  - Source: Sasol eBirds

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