Guest post by Yuval Dax
As part of a research team assigned to locate and document the sought-after Desert Tawny Owl – I was lucky to join as a videographer. Only recently the ‘Hume’s Tawny Owl’ has been found to represent two species, and with the owls in Israel named as Strix hadorami after Hadoram Shirihai, the ornithologist that first recognized their morphological differences.
Strix butleri – Hume’s Tawny Owl: breeds in Iran, Pakistan and extreme northern Oman.
Strix hadorami -Desert Tawny Owl: breeds in Israel, Sinai & E. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and rest of Oman.
Although known to breed in Israel, the ‘Desert Tawny Owl’ special biology has never been documented and never before in video, one of the reasons for this is it’s rareness and extremely secretive behavior.
Finally, after spending many nights in the desert, a nest was found in one of the most remote wadis. I had to develop a new photography technique in order to document the birds properly combining Digiscoping (X25-60 Zoom), Special lighting equipment and sound recording. One of the main conditions was to keep a safe distance from the owls in order not to affect their behavior.
Digiscoping was a natural choice – this is the best way to document nature without affecting it. The most enjoyable part of this project was scanning the vast desert landscapes with my spotting scope and binoculars in search of this elusive owl, that has never been located before in daylight.This documentation project wouldn’t have been possible without help of a skillful team of naturalists controlling light and sound, and the help of Nature park authorities, Society for the Protection of Nature and Birdlife, and the professional Israeli photographers and naturalists.
There is still much more to discover about the secret life of the Desert Tawny Owl!
For more information, contact:
Nature of Israel