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