Sunday, March 4, 2012

Snowy Owl - Take Two

I was feeling lucky this morning . . . and I was!
I had attended, and done a little volunteer work, yesterday at the Houston, Minnesota's International Festival of Owls.  I was going to spend today with my girlfriend Patti, but her husband had surgery recently, and she wanted to stay near him today, so we'll get together in a couple weeks.  This gave me the day off.  I got up this AM when Richard left for work, and completed a couple of blog posts that I had left unfinished.  As the sun was rising, I decided to follow a lead I had heard about and see if I could find the Snowy Owl which was reported outside of Caledonia.  I checked the ebird listing to get a clue of about where to look.  With only that info, I set off.
The reported siting was described as "On Cty Rd 3 about 3 miles west of Brownsville".  I went to County Road 3, outside of Caledonia, and drove it slowly to Brownsville, then turned and returned.  I did spot a very large bird way off in the distance, which upon further observation by spotting scope just turned out to be a Bald Eagle.  Nothing exciting there . . . I see them all the time.  As I was getting nearer to Caledonia, I decided to take one of the side roads, randomly.  I turned on Malay road, a rural dirt road.  I didn't drive far before I noticed a gathering of crows.  I then noticed a white blob which was the focus of their attention.  I held my breath as I stopped and checked with my binoculars.  YES!  I had found him!
I don't have fabulous equipment, but it is good enough, and this time the owl was close enough, that I could get a much better picture of him.  Also, after a short time, he flew to a different location, closer, trying to find some breakfast.  The view through my scope with my naked eye is great . . . I just can't get it into my digital camera as sharp.  I observed him for about 20 minutes, taking lots of pictures.  The best of them are here.  I then made my way back to the Nature Center in Houston, knowing they had a birding trip scheduled this morning, and this was one of the birds they wanted to try to spot.  As it happens, on the way there, I passed a man in a van with a spotting scope out the window.  A birder!  I stopped and turned around.  We spoke, and I was going to tell him about the owl, when he told me he was the person leading the expedition from the festival.  PERFECT!  Just the person I wanted to try and find.  I described the location for him, and he got out his map to confirm it.  Hopefully, the owl will still be there when he takes the bus of folks back that way so they too can see this most rare visitor from the arctic.
It was a lucky morning for me! I've not checked my lottery ticket from last night yet. Wonder if my luck extended as far as last night??

If you would like to enjoy some extremely crisp pictures of snowy owls, check out this link to Rob Palmer's photo gallery on Facebook.  He photographs raptors of all kinds, and has been getting some fabulous snaps of the Snowies .  There are other wonderful pics too that are a part of the gallery.  Flip through and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic Carolyn!!! Thanks for the pictures and the story! I have been seeing RTH and Falcons in my area as well and I have a GHO nesting near by in the alley (I can hear him) Saw a big momma RTH on a fence post 4 feet off the ground the other day and that brought in the size perspective. I really need to keep my camera on the dashboard of the car, I could have got a good picture of her!