I usually photograph birds in Kuwait during the migration seasons, when the country becomes an important stop for birds migrating throughout Africa, Europe and Asia. In October 2012 friends alerted me to a spotted, short-eared owl at Jahra Pools Nature Reserve in al-Jahra. Unfortunately I was sick that day, but about two days later when I was feeling better, I went out as if on a mission. I returned to the reserve to search for the owl, and even though I knew there would only be a slim chance of finding it again—since migratory birds usually stay a day or less in one area—I had to try.

Two hours passed when I came upon anoth-er group of bird watchers. They told me they had just seen the owl, and it had flown off to another location in the reserve. I had an idea of where it might have landed, so I drove as fast as I could to the other side of the park. After searching the many trees and brush, I sighted the owl behind branches. I inched myself forward, hoping the owl would change its location. As I approached the bird, it flew to a nearby branch where the background colors were perfect for an evening shot.

For three hours I waited for the perfect moment, and then it arrived. I captured the owl as it started to clean its feathers, beginning from the bottom of its wing. Its head twisted back, and its powerful feathers expanded to cover one eye. The moment happened so fast, and fortunately I was quick enough to photograph this rare owl moment. It is the best photo I have ever taken and one of the best moments I have ever experienced in all my years as a photographer.