Owling…and Anthills

This morning I scratched away the last remains of a scab from the last itchy spot produced from the insect bites I accumulated as part of the rite of passage to birding Southeast Brazil. The bites were of the usual kind to be expected: chiggers, mosquitoes, and whatever other unseen parasites. For the most part the itching had stopped by the time I got home and I had completely forgotten about that particular aspect of the trip.

Tawny-Browed Owl

But as I go through my digital mountain of photographs, I am reminded of the one night we went looking for owls in the Linhares Natural Reserve. I had my flashlight with me, but wasn’t thinking about where I might have stopped to freeze motionless while we awaited the appearance of this Tawny-Browed Owl. Within a moment of standing still, I was ready to squirm and gasp, while tiny ants started to crawl up my legs and bite.

Anthill Warning: Don’t Tread Here!!

Thanks to Dave, a more seasoned and knowledgeable tour participant, I was on my way to being debugged by the time we climbed back onto the bus, and I was able to eradicate the invaders. From then on, I gave those anthills–nature’s land mines–my full respect.

Solitary Tinamou

In addition to the Tawny-Browed Owl we saw a Solitary Tinamou and I was able to get this sort of half-picture. One impression this trip began to make on me from the outset was to quit worrying and invest in a flash unit… I will have time to practice using the new gadget, as least-invasively as possible, in dark places, before my next trip.

Just for fun – here’s a Least Pygmy Owl we found sitting out in plain daylight, earlier the same day. No ants encountered.

Least Pygmy Owl

5 thoughts on “Owling…and Anthills

  1. I love that little Pygmy Owl, Lisa What a cutie!! That ant mound looks exactly like the Imported Fire Ants that have arrived in Texas. And guess where they came from. South America. They are painful and itchy as you have no doubt found out.

    • Thanks, Bob! I referred to them as Fire Ants immediately – what else could they be? – but everyone said they weren’t (technically) fire ants. I sure felt like I was on fire! These were very tiny, cranky little beasts. Next time I run into an etymologist I’ll have to ask, but in the meantime, according to Wikipedia, there are 285 varieties of fire ants and they come in different sizes. I would have needed a microscope to figure out if these guys had copper brown heads and darker abdomens… I was more interested in their demise.

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