October 22, 2014
Mark Glenshaw, also known as “The Owl Man,” joined us for dinner last Saturday evening, along with several other friends. Our lively discussions brought to mind the first time I met Mark, after which I penned a short narrative about the interesting encounter. I’m sharing that description here for the first time, along with some great-horned owl images I captured with Mark’s assistance.
When I first set eyes on Mark Glenshaw, he was already watching me. I was trudging up a steep hill toward my truck in St. Louis’ Forest Park after locating a great-horned owl nest which featured three, fluffy fledglings, all curious and alert. When I reached the parking lot near the World’s Fair Pavilion, Mark approached me, in the manner of a park ranger, and introduced himself as an amateur naturalist who monitored the great-horned owls of Forest Park. He further informed me, with utmost courtesy, that I had already been “a bit too close” to the owls.
I introduced myself and explained my intention to photograph the owls. Mark showed me two vantage points where I could get an image without disturbing the young owls. The positions, which he had selected to provide a clear line of sight at eye-level from the hilltop to the nest were ideal. I shook hands with Mark and advised him that I would head home to grab my camera gear and be back in two hours for the “golden hour” before sunset. To my surprise, Mark said, “I’ll be here when you get back.”
As I gathered my gear later that afternoon, Joyce asked me what I was up to. I jokingly explained that I was going back to Forest Park to photograph a trio of young owls, pending approval from their “watchman,” Mark Glenshaw. Later, as I pulled up to the same parking lot where I had met Mark, he approached me again. Although it has been four years now, I remember Mark’s exact words: “I checked your Bona fides while you were gone.” He further explained that he felt a responsibility to ensure that the owls were not disturbed, and that he was looking forward to assisting in any way he could.
I captured several nice images of the fledgling owls that evening and the next morning as well. Mark even showed me individual trees where I could find each parent roosting when they were not actively feeding their young. I wasn’t surprised to find the adult owls right where he said they would be. By the time I was finished a few days later, I had not only made some great images but also a great friend in Mark Glenshaw.
Over the years, Mark has continued to monitor the owls of Forest Park and educate visitors about their life history. I’m impressed at the way he engages people, young and old, with owl anecdotes, including predatory attempts and nesting successes. Mark now travels all over Missouri, giving presentations about great-horned owls, and he keeps all of us “owl followers” updated with a lively blog. But don’t think this has all gone to his head. Mark can still be found most every day of the year, observing and recording the activities of the great-horned owls of Forest Park.
If you would like to learn more about Mark and the owls of Forest Park, check out his fascinating blog, “Forest Park Owls” by clicking here.
Thanks for looking,
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