Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis
The bird only sat for a few moments before flying off. I noticed several more utilizing power lines throughout the rest of the day. I also saw a Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) through my binocs from about 200 yards away, as well as a few Cooper's Hawks (Accipiter cooperii) in the scattered woodlots around the periphery of the agricultural fields. There were lots of small birds like starlings, finches, and dark-eyed juncos along the hedgerows of the fields. I then noticed some larger, colorful birds hopping around in the agricultural photos, they turned out to be horned larks.
Horned Lark - Eremophila alpestris
I spent another forty-five minutes or so looking for any owls to no avail before moving on to a different area. Like agricultural fields, airfields feature a wide expanses of land with sparse vegetation just like the tundra. I decided to drive a back road which borders the periphery of a large airfield in hopes of seeing the owl that had been recorded in the area about a week earlier. The sun had disappeared, the wind had picked up, and a squall of snow had begin to fall. I felt like it would be difficult to spot a large white owl on the snow covered ground, so I was hoping I would be fortunate enough to spot one on a fencepost or power line. As I came around a corner, a large white shape caught my eyes through the heavy snow. There, sitting atop an old fencepost, was a Snowy Owl.
I was so excited that I put my car into a bit of a skid when I hit the breaks. I turned around, pulled off the side of the road and grabbed my binoculars. Within a few minutes, another car pulled up. A woman emerged and asked, "Do you see something I don't?" I told her to look out to the fence post, she immediately pulled her car behind me and brought out a large Swarovski spotting scope. She was kind enough to let me fire a few photos of the owl through her spotting scope. The result came out fairly nice, considering the method of shooting, the heavy snow, and the fact that the owl was more than 100 yards away. Several more birders arrived in the coming minutes and we spent about a half an hour observing the bird before it took off and flew directly overhead. It was an awesome experience and I'd like to thank the birders for their knowledge and great company. I may have been bitten by the birding bug, stay tuned for more. And, Merry Christmas everyone!
|Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), Wayne County, MI|