We are in the doldrums in terms of birding in northern Minnesota. The Fall migration is now done, and we are still in need of a heavy deep snow cover to push more winter birds out of the deep forest to more viewable locations. These facts don’t mean I stop hiking the forests, but every day is very challenging.
On the home front given I have not had any new bloggable content, I have worked upon updating my index. While in my travels I often avoid chasing certain kinds of birds in which I have little interest (bird snob??), I still have amassed a decent number. You will now find 265 species photographed / indexed. In addition, my video and mammal indices are now getting rather large. Although this blog focuses upon still images of birds, you may enjoy these other two resources:
Before sunrise I drove over to Superior in search of Snowy Owls. While I did not find any owls, about ten minutes before sunrise I spied an early hunting Rough-Legged Hawk. I was actually surprised to see it hunting before sunup. Thus, I positioned my car as a blind and captured the hawk in the very first rays of morning sun … less than five minutes after the golden orb popped above the horizon.
This afternoon I had planned on just chilling out, but when I got wind of a Northern Hawk Owl up near Stone Lake Road in Sax-Zim Bog I quickly changed those plans. While I never found the owl, I had a blast watching this mink for over ten minutes as it fished the small creek adjacent to Stone Lake Road. Finally right at sun down I watched another Rough-Legged Hawk near the greenhouse on Hwy #7 … the second time I had seen it in that area this afternoon. I did make a few swings along McDavitt Road towards sunset but did not find any Great Gray Owls. Even with the misses, it was a great day out in the woods.
I had decided to name the Snowy Owl I found yesterday “Houdini”, but when my wife Molly heard about my birding escapades, she came up with a better name, Hootdini! You may ask if this is a strange name for an owl. Normally I would answer yes, but not for this owl. While watching it hunt yesterday morning, 15 minutes into my time with the owl, it got mobbed by crows. Within 20 seconds the Snowy had had enough, and dove for cover from its high perch.
I was watching the dive from a distance of 100 yards. Said Snowy disappeared behind a mound like a magician, and even though the habitat was fairly open … never reappeared to my eyes. The crows also seemed to lose track of the owl’s location, landing in a distant pine tree. For another 15 minutes I tried to relocate the bird to no avail. I scanned every nearby tree with my binoculars. Perhaps this Snowy Owl has learned how to burrow! (very doubtful).
Regardless, I hope this owl has a happier ending than Silver. Agonizingly, this bird represents the second Snowy Owl I have seen and it was only November 16th. I am really beginning to believe this will be a very good winter for Snowies.
Here is one more owl pic. It is just one of eight of my photographs which will soon be on display as part of an “Owls of the Northland Exhibit” which I have created for Perk Place Coffeehouse. This great java hangout works with Destination Duluth photographers to decorate their walls.
I think I need to have my readers help me name my two friendly foxes. These two canines (one male and female) have been visiting our yard every evening about 40 minutes after sundown for the past ten days. I feel like I need to get on a first name basis with my friends.
Two nights ago, the fox couple met the skunk. They know who is the boss!
In addition, the Trumpeter Swans are now gone, but I captured these images just before the last open water disappeared … also two days ago.