Rare marsh owl spotted at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve near Table View. Photo: www.AlexAitkenhead.co.za
Capew Town – Birdwatchers were treated to quite a sight after a rare marsh owl was spotted at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve near Table View.

Avid birder Alex Aitkenhead snapped some pictures of the bird and said it was a magnificent and unique experience.

“It’s a resident owl of Rietvlei but has not been seen by birders. He was first spotted about two weeks ago. He comes out at about 4.30pm and flies around in a quiet zone of the reserve,” Aitkenhead said.

This bird was not easily found in the Cape, Aitkenhead said, and capturing images of the owl and seeing it in real life made this a special experience.

“Social media is abuzz with birders and many of them wanting to see it. Some have come from as far as Joburg. We were fortunate to get the pictures in such perfect lighting.

“I have been going to that reserve for about 10 years and I have never seen an owl, never mind a marsh owl. What makes it different is it’s a species that is not well spotted. You get barn owls and Cape eagle-owl, and those when you go to any kind of environment you will find one.”

He added that the bird was not shy and didn’t seem to be bothered by their presence.

“What was so nice about this one, is he didn’t just fly past. We watched him hunting for about an hour, it is one of the few that hunts in the day time. Probably does hunt at night, but started around sunset. 

"He flies very low and those images are of him hunting. It’s like watching a programme seeing a lion hunting. He stuck to his pattern and hunted for what he wanted to. It was a remarkable experience.”

Aitkenhead dedicated a blog post to the bird that can be found at: www.alexaitkenhead.co.za

Cape Times