Cold Carnival, Hot Birding!

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!

Gray Guard in a Snow Squall (My first view of the morning … the owl is enforcing a “no trespassing” sign which I would not dream of disobeying!)

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)

Backyard Birds (Pileated Woodpecker and Black-Capped Chickadee)

7 thoughts on “Cold Carnival, Hot Birding!

  1. Thanks for sharing your photos! I was at the Bog Feb 24&25, having traveled from Austin, TX. I did not find the Great Gray but saw the Northern Hawk owl. I did see 3 Snowy owls in Superior. Must return one day to find the Gray.

  2. Dear Rich, thank you for this fantastic experience. The Great Gray is truly a must see bird and we would not have seen it if not for you taking us to your owling grounds. And we also saw the Snowy Owl the same day at Superior thanks to your directions. It was a superb day indeed. Muito obrigada!!!

  3. Dear Rich, thank you so much for showing us the amazing and TRULY GREAT Great Grays. It was a splendid day and your generosity made the trip from Brazil very worth. We are all in bliss after enjoying the birds and getting the mandatory pics to show our friends back home. Thank you very much!!!!

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