At 7:15 am the air temperature was -19F. In short it was a great day to go birding. The skies were crystal clear and the winds were calm. In my book, that means owls should be out hunting. I was not disappointed, but first I had to take a trip down to Brighton Beach on Lake Superior and enjoy the pre-dawn light over the ice fields!
After some time down at the lake, I went birding. Within a few minutes I found my first Great Gray Owl of the day hunting only two miles from my house! While I am still waiting for a yard owl, this was pretty cool. Over the course of the morning I saw three Great Grays, and one Northern Saw-Whet. Early on in my morning travels I stopped to take a photograph of this horse. Kind of cool how frost forms and freezes on the back of a horse at -19F.
Some time with a Northern Saw-Whet Owl
A Black-Capped Chickadee photo bombs my image
A Great Gray Owl dressed up in snow flocked pines
This afternoon after a Nordic ski I decided a change of pace was in order and went looking for Snowies. I did find two but photo opps did not appear.
In short is was a great Super Bird Sunday! (what’s football?)
In the movie “Dances With Wolves”, Kevin Costner spends his time with a wolf. For me yesterday it was all about Snowy Owls. This winter season has been incredible in terms of the number of Snowy Owls which have migrated down from the Arctic. Since late October, I have personally hand captured / saved two owls which were in distress.
These events as well as my outdoorsy reputation have led to me being included in an article by Minnesota Public Radio, been featured as the Star Tribune’s first outdoors people profile, and other media items via news networks as far away as Europe.
Yesterday I decided my recent fascination with Great Gray Owls needed a break. Thus, instead of birding the wilderness north of town, I concentrated on industrial haunts in search of Snowy Owls. I was not disappointed. Here are some images of three owls I found, returning shortly before dusk when the male Snowy Owl would be active, and not sleeping.
Snowy Owl Sunset
Snowy Ears … Rather than Rabbit Ears (cut the cord!)
Sleepy Snowy Eating Snow
Railroad Tracks Snowy Owl
Didn’t this bird’s Mom teach it not to play on railroad tracks?!
Today is the 1st of December, and this strange winter continues. In October I went Nordic skiing after two big snow storms. Today I went bicycling up the shore of Lake Superior in 40F cloudy weather … all the snow is gone. Ice is forming in the harbor and I used that fact to track some ducks this morning. The open ice and a lead of open water channeled both the mergansers and goldeneyes towards shore in their mutual search for breakfast. However both species of ducks spook very easily. In order to get these photographs I had to park the car right next to the shore, and sit motionless using the car as a blind for 90 minutes. Eventually both species of birds forgot about me and moved within easy range of my camera. Thus patience is a HUGE requirement for successful bird photography. Here is the result:
Female Red-Merganser with its catch / fish (look closely!)
Yesterday I also made a trip up to Sax-Zim Bog. It was a gorgeous day with moderate wind and plenty of sunshine. Once again McDavitt Road was the place to be. I watched a Great Gray Owl hunt till the bright light pushed it deep into the Bog. At that point it was time to enjoy the Northern Hawk Owl’s efforts!
Great Gray Owl
Northern Hawk Owl
Yesterday I decided I needed to stay closer to Duluth. My search for owls had involved lots of driving, and then hikes. While I enjoyed the birding trips to Sax-Zim Bog immensely, I was interested in minimal driving and a good afternoon bicycle ride in the sun along Lake Superior. Even with the 32F temperature and an effective 18 mph wind in my face on my bike, it was great to take the ride.
In addition to my cycling I crawled (actually drove and hiked) the Duluth waterfront. The end result were these three images … boats and birds … boy toys (i.e the boats).
BBC Shipping Lines Vesuvius and Mississippi unloaded at the Port Terminal
Boat and Birds … BBC Vesuvius scares up a few gulls upon arrival at Canal Park
Glaucous Gull on the Duluth Waterfront … Another Arctic Visitor