A moment of silence for a fallen owl

On a sunny June weekend in 2019, I set out to visit the mountain lake in the bosom of the Mount Konjuh called Paučko Lake and try my luck at photographing the rich wildlife of  this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Paučko Lake is a natural lake located in the forest halfway between Kladanj and the locality of Muške vode, a real place to find peace of heart and soul from the continuously distressing Bosnian topics. The lake itself is not directly related to the title of this story, so it will be covered in a special blog post, because Paučko really deserves it.

As I was driving towards Kladanj, somewhere in the middle of the road between Stupar and Kladanj, at the highest point, where the winding road stretched through a relatively long distance, I saw a predator, a common buzzard, flying low. As soon as I thought it was the perfect opportunity for a good photo, I saw another bird lying in the middle of the road. I barely avoided it while driving and managed to pull over at a lay-by. I signalled the other drivers to slow down so they wouldn’t go over it. I quickly got out of the car to check which bird that was, and whether it was still alive. It was the queen of the forest, a connoisseur of all forest secrets and inhabitants – the eternally magical TAWNY OWL (Strix aluco). Unfortunately, one flight across the road was fatal for her. I guess for the owl the traffic was fatal, like many times before.

Suddenly, there came a piercing and terrible scream of a buzzard that froze the blood in my veins. I had witnessed its calls countless times before, which were almost gentle, pleasing to the ear, but never like this. It was as if it were the ancient cry of an injured wild bird, the screaming cry of a dinosaur from ancient times, which froze all the senses in a matter of seconds, provoking immense admiration. It flew about 20 meters above, it was not afraid and did not give up flying over. I used the opportunity and took a few photos of the low-flying buzzard still under the impression of its piercing scream that, like a razor, cut through the air reaching into every cell of my body.

I moved the owl from the road, left it in a nearby grove, and covered it with leaves. There were no visible injuries on the owl, her eyes were turned upside down and she seemed calm. Standing respectfully above her, I paid homage to her by a moment of silence. She was already on her way to the world of ancient forests where her sisters were waiting for her to tell her new wisdoms. The buzzard above us flew for a little longer, not ceasing to call wildly, and then it departed. Due to a sudden rush of adrenaline and a strange excitement because of the situation I found myself in, I shouted after him and waved at him.

I wonder what he wanted, was he upset by my intrusion in his ideas, was it perhaps about the natural enemies who were fighting just before the tragic event, did he want a quick bite or something completely different? In any case, the forces of natural law drastically exceed the perception and stunted instincts of a technologically burdened man, and I felt in a moment trapped in the cage of my own routines because I would never know the answer.

I encouraged myself with the idea that I would try to witness such natural phenomena through the lens of the camera and, thus, at least for a second, get closer to the unknown world from ancient times.

Almir Hukic

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