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Jumped out of my observing chair!

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#1 Daniel

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 11:09 PM

Here I am sitting all alone out in my Observatory taking photos of the night sky.. When all of us sudden a large barn owl landed right on the top of my dome and then it turned and look down at me with its blowing eyes. I actually let out a little freak because it's scared the crap out of me. Has anybody ever had something like this happened to them before? Never in my life have I heard of anything like this!

Edited by Daniel, 12 July 2018 - 11:19 PM.

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#2 TOMDEY

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 11:38 PM

Back in the 1980s, I did hundreds of single-frame multi-hour deep sky exposures on film. My guide corrections were by hand... pushing buttons for the duration, me up on a ladder. Couldn't flinch or even bump my head into the guide eyepiece, else ruin the shot. Well, bats would keep landing on the dome and shutters, even flying around my head at times. They never actually landed on me, just the dome above my head. I just got used to it and ignored them.

 

Back in the late 1960s, I was in Panama (collecting insects for the Dept of Agr)... we had Vampire Bats there. I remember one sultry night, I'm lounging in bed, reading a book by a fairly dim lantern. A Vampire Bat lands on my buddies mattress, right next to him (asleep) and proceeds to crawl up toward his neck. He half awakens and flits his neck; the bat flies off. Panama was so hot and humid; we would change our sheets in the morning from sweating while sleeping! We were on the Atlantic side, away from population. Totally dark skies, Milky Way vertically overhead!  Tom

 

Attached a typical picture from the 1980s bat exposures showing M100 and an asteroid.  Tom >>>

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 35-238_M100 and an asteroid 120 min.jpg

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#3 Astroman007

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 11:49 PM

Once while I was admiring a pristine starry sky I heard an owl in the forest nearby. I listened for a while to its calls before making my best rendition of the same in hopes holding a conversation. Apparently the owl's interest was piqued, for it actually responded to my calls, coming ever nearer, before swooping down from the trees, flying just behind my head and on into the next stand of trees before calling again and taking off. The owl showed no upset, just interest, but I did not continue the interaction because i had no desire to interfere with the wild bird's natural ways.

Very nice story BTW, Daniel. You should not have been so scared, though; an owl will do you no harm. smile.gif  I love owls...so peaceful, so quiet, so beautiful. I had the privilege of having an owl land on my outstretched hand once, got to sit next to a tiny Saw-Whet owl while it dozed during one winter's day in the forest, and had one that would follow me on my walks along a lonely country road, flying from telephone pole to telephone pole, waiting for me to catch up each time...but those are stories for another time.


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#4 Daniel

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 11:55 PM

At FIRST I thought it was a racoon... My dome is within jumping distance for one to do just that... I thought the tail feathers were the tail of the coon. If I would have seen it land...it would have been another story.. I would have wanted it to stay. Once it flew away after gazing at me... I was kinda mad at myself... I would have tried to snap a cell pic of it.

 

 Those are some amazing stories guys!!



#5 n2dpsky

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 12:15 AM

I used to do quite a bit of mountain biking at night. It's a nice way to make a trail you know seem different.  I live in mountain lion country so your head is usually on a swivel at night.  When something moves by quickly, you get excited really fast.   I've had a number of owls fly above the rider in front of me just illuminated from below by our lights.   A great horned owl coming out a nowhere just as quiet as it can be will certainly get your attention.   It often looked like my buddy was the prey.


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#6 havasman

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 12:54 AM

Owls are wonderful. One early morning not long before dawn I was leaving the dark site and had just locked the gate behind me and started to pull out onto the dirt road that leads back to a main road. I'd moved @ 5 yards and was doing maybe 5 MPH. Suddenly in the windshield was a great horned owl in flight with its whole set of flight surfaces deployed. Wings fully extended, tail all splayed out, underside only a few inches from the glass. As I slammed on the brakes it gave one thrusting pump and disappeared over the top of the vehicle and was gone out of the glow of the dash lights. I suppose in reality there was no chance we were going to collide but it made me jump. It makes no sense that the big bird didn't see me and it was likely in control of everything.

One of the joys of being at the rural dark site is being privy to the owls' conversation through the night.

I've been lucky to have encountered several owls over the years.

Of course most Oriental cultures consider them omens of death. But hey, I'm still kicking.


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#7 jeremiah2229

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 01:06 AM

I'm surprised you heard him land. They are here all night long and of course totally silent. I'm always amazed at watching them come and go here in complete silence. Truly stealth flier. Maybe you'll be blessed with another chance to take a snapshot of him.  waytogo.gif

 

 

Peace...



#8 chucknew

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 01:16 AM

I was walking my 4 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback off- leash on a hot summer night in deep south Texas. It was about 10pm, on a dark, tree lined and quiet residential street. Most of the ambient light was from the nearly full moon, showing just above the 30-40 year old canopy. He was 10 feet ahead sniffing and looking around, as we headed out on our routine nightly walk. We neared a yard with a large, old oak tree, a branch stretching out 1/2 of way across the street, about 12' high, casting deep shadows beneath. There was an owl on the branch and my boy Boone noticed him, stopping under the branch while looking up. The owl slowly dropped down out of the tree a few feet and hovered, my Rhodie stood up on hind legs like he was trying to reach him. They came within about 6' of each other, no sound but the slightest beat of owl wings, looking at each other for just a heartbeat or two. And then the owl was gone, and I realized I was holding my breath. In awe of what I had just witnessed, I was sick that there were no other witnesses, no camera to catch the magic moment when that tree, the moon, the shadows, a beautiful dog, and an owl all came together. He and I had many great moments together but 16 years later I still remember that night like it was yesterday.


Edited by chucknew, 13 July 2018 - 01:20 AM.

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#9 Freezout

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 07:32 AM

If it's about an owl, I have no such a story (once a formation of ducks flying quite low over me, but then I was more concerned about having them using my Mak as toilet bowl).

 

If it's about having almost a cardiac arrest during an observation, I have one.

I am with my brother in law in an astronomy trip, in Morocco. We stay at a guesthouse where we are the only customers + the caretaker, in a village of the Sahara desert. That day there is a sand storm and it stops only at midnight. The caretaker is sleeping while we put the telescopes out in the court of the house. The sky is splendid, Bortle 1 or 2. My brother in law is on his telescope, I am on my Mak. Of course extremely low light pollution, new moon so it's a real dark night, no visibility. I'm since a while navigating through the wonders of Sagittarius. The nebulaes are just splendid under such conditions... I'm staring at my eyepiece since really a while in pure silence.

Without me noticing it at all, the caretaker has been waking up, coming (walking on sand in perfect silence), was very close to me and asked: "Everything OK brother?".

I had to jump, yelled very bad words in France as I was scared to death. The guy was just coming as during the day I had been proposing him to have a look! My brother in law found it especially funny as he saw the guy waking up. This ridiculous moment had a witness.


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#10 epee

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 08:09 AM

Owls, especially Great Horned Owls, have been offered as explanations of sightings of, "Aliens", "Goblins" and the like. Given their size and silhouette, glowing eyes, silent flight and a propensity for waddling around on flat surfaces for surprisingly long stretches of time, it seems plausible.



#11 Jeff Lee

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 08:51 AM

Have several pairs of Barred Owls that nest on my property. One day walking down to the creek at dusk I had one brush my head with its wings - you never hear them coming:)


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#12 Slartibartfast

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 09:17 AM

I hear the owls mostly in the fall when I'm out in my yard or on my roof doing some observing.  Their call is "hoot," (pause), "hoot-hoot-hoot" (3 in quick succession).  Anyone know what kind of owl makes that kind of call that would be native to the eastern US?  I never see them, only hear their calls.  I start to hear them off in the distance and after a while, the calls get closer and closer until I can hear them all around me.  Then, I hear their calls recede in the other direction.  I never see them or hear them fly or rustle a branch or leaf.  Pretty amazing.  I love the night!  smile.gif


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#13 Anthony236J

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 09:20 AM

...

 

I remember one sultry night, I'm lounging in bed, reading a book by a fairly dim lantern. A Vampire Bat lands on my buddies mattress, right next to him (asleep) and proceeds to crawl up toward his neck.

 

....

 

 

Thanks for the nightmares waytogo.gif

 

We've have one bat (probably brown) do a close fly-by once at a provincial park.  They move much faster than I would've expected.



#14 jrbarnett

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 09:48 AM

Back in the 1980s, I did hundreds of single-frame multi-hour deep sky exposures on film. My guide corrections were by hand... pushing buttons for the duration, me up on a ladder. Couldn't flinch or even bump my head into the guide eyepiece, else ruin the shot. Well, bats would keep landing on the dome and shutters, even flying around my head at times. They never actually landed on me, just the dome above my head. I just got used to it and ignored them.

 

Back in the late 1960s, I was in Panama (collecting insects for the Dept of Agr)... we had Vampire Bats there. I remember one sultry night, I'm lounging in bed, reading a book by a fairly dim lantern. A Vampire Bat lands on my buddies mattress, right next to him (asleep) and proceeds to crawl up toward his neck. He half awakens and flits his neck; the bat flies off. Panama was so hot and humid; we would change our sheets in the morning from sweating while sleeping! We were on the Atlantic side, away from population. Totally dark skies, Milky Way vertically overhead!  Tom

 

Attached a typical picture from the 1980s bat exposures showing M100 and an asteroid.  Tom >>>

Love amateur astro-images on film.

 

Thanks for sharing,

 

Jim



#15 Daniel

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 10:03 AM

I never heard this birds wings..All I heard were the talons when it hit the top of the dome. When it flew away I never heard a thing.
I always thought owls were good luck.
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#16 sg6

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 10:58 AM

On person here in the UK was losing several images in the middle of their run. Guiding was going a bit crazy at intervals.

Eventually discovered an owl, barn owl, had taken to using the scope as perch to rest and detect food from.

Seems everytime it landed and took off the relevant image was rendered useless.

He did manage to get a picture of owl on scope. Not sure how he resolved the problem. Mainly as I think he found it highly amusing.


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#17 MiguelStrongEye

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 12:55 PM

Owls are amazing in flight...it’s just unreal.

It makes more sense to think of them as stealth drones with an amazing sensor suite mounted in a pivoting pod and a undermounted weapons system.

 

Very different than other raptors.

 

I was out for an evening walk in the park and was perhaps 10 yards from a bunny nibbling grass.

The owl came within feet of my right shoulder and took the bunny.

I think it was using me as cover.


Edited by MiguelStrongEye, 13 July 2018 - 12:56 PM.

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#18 grif 678

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 02:43 PM

While I was looking at the full moon at low power, a swarm of bats flew into the FOV, and just flew back and forth, from side to side. They stayed in that area for several minutes before they flew some where else. It was pretty amazing, reminded me of something from a vampire movie. In front of that full moon, that view has stuck with me a long time.


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#19 David P

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 03:59 PM

Here I am sitting all alone out in my Observatory taking photos of the night sky.. When all of us sudden a large barn owl landed right on the top of my dome and then it turned and look down at me with its blowing eyes.

If it had called out with it's scream it would have really made you jump.  No cute owl hoot here.

 

https://www.allabout...Barn_Owl/sounds



#20 contrailmaker

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 05:11 PM

There were lots of owls around my house when I lived in Phoenix. Great horned owls flew just a foot or two over my head on several occasions while I was observing on my backyard. Very silent in flight. The first couple of times I thought the owl was intending to land on my head.

 

CM


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#21 Astroman007

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 05:51 PM

^^ That would have been something! smile.gif  But only if you were wearing a hat. The owl may have hurt you by accident if you were to move and he / she felt the need to dig in with the talons for balance. 


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#22 BigC

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 08:18 PM

Those "beautiful" owls are natural predators just like hawks and eagles ;and the owl  will take your pet cat as easily as the owl  will take a rabbit.Owls don't live on seeds.I actually find it a bit repulsive how many nations and people idolize predatory animals and birds as "noble".

 

I have lost several cats to avian predators. The first was Snuffles ,who was outside enjoying a warm twilight evening .She had been kept inside for weeks until getting over a bad cold.

 

The owls(and raptors) talons pierce the neck in back to kill and hold their prey.


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#23 wky46

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 08:28 PM

Years ago one morning sitting in a tree stand, I had a very large owl light in a tree 20 yrds opposite me

 

Looked right at me and took off heading straight for my face, talons spreading

 

It realized at the last moment the eyes he was locked onto didn’t belong to a squirrel and it veered off

 

He didn’t make any noise. I only felt the “whooosh” of air around my head


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#24 Daniel

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 08:53 PM

That's too bad about your pet. I do not idolize raptor...I look at them with respect and awe...that these creatures have evolved to be the hunters they are today. I love to watch them.
I have a koi pond...and had a mature Eagle on a limb not 8ft. from me...swoop down and try to take one of my large (18") fish. I was having morning coffee on my deck when this happened. I never saw the bird when I walked out and sat down. It was a good 5 minutes before it spread its massive wings and floated over my pond. (This was all about 6-8ft in front of me)..I was in awe of how big these things really are when in flight. It flew under my pine tree line and went up in the air and was gone.
Another one of those WOW moments.
I still cannot to this day figure out how I never saw this bird sitting there...6ft off the ground..spitting distance away from me. It was partially hidden by the main tree trunk...so it must have not seen me come out right away. I could have taken so many pics that morning if only I had been more awake...lol.....it makes me sigh thinking about it.

#25 contrailmaker

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 10:03 PM

In many ways, owls are the perfect night predators for rodents. On top of great night vision, their ears are spaced one higher than the other so they can use their hearing to triangulate the position of their pray. Their feathers have tiny hairs that produce vortices that cancel out the flight noise. Small pets make easy pray however, in Phoenix at least, it was far more common for coyotes to take small unattended pets.

 

CM




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