Upon waking up this morning, I checked two items to see if my first bonafide birding excursion of 2017 was possible. First and foremost I had to determine whether the pinched nerve which has been causing me intense pain in my back and left leg was healed enough to allow for a birding trip (it was!). My second bit of research was to check the weather forecast. A second wallop of a winter storm which started at dinner time last night was supposed to hold off long enough to allow me a morning excursion to the Bog (50 miles from my home). The weather seemed perfect for owling … dark light due to light snow and light wind in the morning. The snows were do to resume midday.
Thus, I left an hour before sunrise and arrived in the bog at dawn’s first dismal light (heavy clouds and light snow). I found four other birders driving up and down Admiral Road, hoping like me to find a Great Gray Owl hunting after sunrise. Although I spent close to an hour on Admiral and McDavitt Roads, no owls were to be seen. Oh well, when success does not occur while birding … change your approach. I headed off onto some remote roads which I have never driven before. Jackpot! I found a Great Gray Owl hunting at 9:30 am. For the next 20 minutes I hiked the Bog and enjoyed watching the Gray Ghost of the Forest hunt for meadow voles, often from a distance of less than 20 yards! When my owl decided it was time to fly deep into the Bog, I realized my leg had limitations in the deep snow and I bade good-bye to my friend.
On my way out of the Bog I briefly stopped at the Welcome Center and a few other birding spots. The Winter birds now seem to be out in force. During the 9 miles of driving from my owl location to the Welcome Center, I saw 21 deer. The snow in the forest / Bog is now getting quite deep. It was obvious that the deer were using the same dirt road upon which I was driving to forage for breakfast because walking in the forest is now tough. Deep snow should finally mean more Canadian birds coming south, and more roadside hunting for owls!