It's a couple hours 'til dawn still (now that we're off DST anyway), and again, I can't sleep.
But there are times when that's a good thing...
Because right now, I am watching... well, mostly listening to, since he's so hard to see... a great horned owl, perched on the top rail of my fence and looking over my yard.
He's a huge thing... must be over 2 feet tall on the fence, and a great big barrel body. Every once in a while he's spreading out his wings and hopping further down the fence, and he may have a four or even five foot wingspan... it's hard to tell.
I only know he's a male from the hoot; it's very low and deep, and doesn't rise in pitch. He's pretty big for a male (like most owls, females are usually larger than males).
I know where his normal nest is; up in a tree behind my shop, and I've heard him and seen him before up there; but never out in the open down in the yard like this.
I'd wager he's hunting for voles and field mice down there... The yard is full of them, especially the lower yard, which is fenced off from the dogs.
We let our lawn overgrow a bit (okay, more than a bit) late in the season (drought protection), and then chopped it down with a brush mower, leaving the trim on the lawn for the winter (we're going to overseed it in early spring); so there's a lot of cover for them, and they've taken up residence quite happily. You can't walk around the yard more than a few feet without hearing desperate scurrying.
Mr. Owl is also hooting at a quite high volume... every minute or so.
...And another great horned owl is hooting back at him from across the lake and further down. Sounds like a female, because her hoot is higher, and rising in pitch.
The sounds of the lake, the gentle breeze, the ducks and geese swimming down there; and these two owls hooting into the night like train whistles.
It's really... quite something.