Yesterday I enjoyed showing some new friends around the Northland. Fabio, Rita and Jon flew to Duluth from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with the hope of escaping the heat and craziness of Carnival while at the same time doing some winter birding. Even though the birding was hot, it was also cold (-8F inland from Lake Superior to start the morning). For the past few days they had made repeated trips up to Sax-Zim Bog at sunrise and sunset. While they had seen lots of cool winter birds, the elusive Gray Ghost of the Forest, the Great Gray Owl had eluded them.
To put it mildly they were more than pleased while visiting “my owling grounds”. On our first birding stop of the morning we found a Great Gray Owl within just a few minutes. Later that morning we found a flock of snow buntings winging their way northward to breed up on the Arctic tundra. Life was good!
While I did not join my new friends birding this morning, I was not surprised to find them on the North Shore a bit after sunrise. Pleasant words were exchanged and then I pointed them towards another Great Gray Owl. I think it was truly a good Carnival!
Here are a few images I took of the Gray Ghost during this morning’s snow squall. The combination of the snow (dark skies) and light wind made for perfect owling conditions. Finally I’ve included some backyard birds from yesterday afternoon. The sun came out for a few hours and some locals made an appearance in my yard!
Highway Curve and Talons (This owl actually flew from a perch over 100 yards distant and landed less than ten yards from me! It used the sign for almost five minutes as a hunting perch. I did not even breathe!!!)
Great Gray Owl on the Hunt (In the second photo it is not glaring at me. Rather, it has missed its target vole and is intently concentrating. A few seconds later it pounced 5 yards further away in search of its prey)