If you wait till the sun is already up to go birding you will miss out on lots of activity. During the 30 minutes prior to sunup this morning I saw many Great Gray Owls, and lots of Ruffed Grouse. When the golden orb finally appeared with an increase in wind, the owls went to bed. Thus, I drove down to Lake Superior and found this Bald Eagle enjoying the morning sun. Over the next ten minutes I slowly inched closer to the eagle such that I would not spook it. By 60 minutes after sunrise my birding was complete!
It was cold, but beautiful this morning as I looked out over Duluth and Lake Superior at sunrise. Lake Superior is generating huge amounts of sea smoke (Wikipedia link) due to the severe cold and the relative warmth yet of the water.
Thanks to all who helped me with our Snowy Owl rescue out on the Duluth Harbor ice. I delivered the Snowy, now named “Sky” to Wildwoods (as in Sky Harbor Airport). The owl is very thin, but there was no evidence of any car strikes.
- Tom: Thanks for going home to get the wood and fish net. Duct tape is an amazing product. With it we were able to construct a 20 yard long rescue device.
- Judy: Thanks for your initial concern, and sticking it out with me. It is your video of the actual rescue included with this post.
- Ginny: Thanks for all your photos, and the blanket which I used to warm up with when I got out of the harbor. My feet and legs were frozen.
Some history about our efforts. I first spotted the owl shortly before sunrise sitting out on the ice. A sighting of this kind is not unusual … actually rather common. I took a few photos and left the owl alone. Returning after church I discovered the owl had only moved a few feet in hours. It did not take notice of us, even when we tried to scare and flush it.
Having hand rescued a Snowy Owl back in October, with thanks to Frank Nicoletti who is the head bander at Hawk Ridge, I knew how to hand capture this owl. The ice was very thin. Thus I was not willing to walk out on said ice. With our Snowy Owl capture device, I waded in up to my knees … breaking the ice (some nice cuts on my shins), and pushed the ice out of the way. I then netted the snowy and pulled it back to where I could grab the owl. As soon as possible upon getting on shore we put a blanket over the snowy to try and limit its stress.
Video of Snowy Owl Rescue
A few more notes … In the morning, the owl appeared to be fine. When I returned after church I heard it had not moved at all. In addition, a person who was near by had taken dogs for a walk. When that person first got out of their car, the dogs ran over to the owl (the dogs did not attack or touch the owl). I knew that in the Arctic where Snowies nest both Arctic foxes and wolves would be perceived as dangerous by an owl. Thus, any owl that would not move or fly away when confronted by canines had to be in need of help.
Video Taken at Sunrise
I had never expected to hand capture a Snowy Owl back in October. I told everyone it was a once in a lifetime experience. Well … with the irruption of Snowies I have now worked at saving two owls. I hope Sky recovers. It is in good hands.
I will post updates about Sky on my blog.
Although the primary focus of my camera may be birds, as an outdoorsman I love varied experiences which provide me the opportunity to enjoy nature’s beauty. Today as I find my planned bike touring rained out by Hurricane Nate, I am looking forward to Molly and my upcoming service as lighthouse keepers on a remote Lake Superior shore. In eight days we will find ourselves at Crisp Point Lighthouse , which is fifteen miles shy of Whitefish Point near the eastern end of Lake Superior.
Our duties are not difficult. During the day we greet guests, serve as impromptu tour guides, provide security for the site, perform housekeeping chores, and run the small gift shop. Unlike many lighthouses, there is no keeper’s residence. However, far from being a negative, having one’s own private campsite 20 miles from the nearest building of any kind is fantastic!
From a photography vantage point hanging out at a lighthouse is great. Having the combination of the largest lake in the world, Gitchi Gumi, and a lighthouse only 10 yards from the water makes for a great photo subject. My image taken last Fall and shown below is now used by the United States Lighthouses web site as the featured photo for Crisp Point. In total we will serve as keepers for just under a week, but as there is no connectivity of any kind … posts about the experience will have to wait till our return to civilization.
One final note … the Edmund Fitzgerald sank seven miles off Crisp Point … as noted in the lyrics of the song by Gordon Lightfoot.