Thursday, February 27, 2014

Owling with Dad

Though my dad and I had gotten out owling once or twice over the holidays, we had only seen the birds from several hundred yards away. He had mentioned me that he would like to get out and get some closer shots of them, especially because he had just picked up his new toy, a Canon 300mm f/4 IS telephoto lens. So we decided to give it a shot this past weekend and roll north to the wind turbine region of mid-Michigan. On our way northward we swung through Maple River SGA to see if any snowies were still hanging around. I had seen one previously on February 3rd sleeping atop a barn in the early morning. We managed to see a few Northern Harriers, a Northern Shrike, some Snow Buntings, and hoards of Horned Larks. We continued to press north in Gratiot County and eventually hit some back roads in the vast expanse of wind turbines. We made a pass down a road where I had seen two snowies a few weeks earlier and came up empty, but as we turned around and headed back out the way we came in, I noticed a white blob sitting atop a telephone pole. Sure enough, it was a snowy.

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) N Blair Road, Gratiot County, MI
This sleepy owl simply turned his head and gave us a squinting look. We shot a few quick photos of him and then moved on. We drove a little further north into Isabella County to an area where I had previously seen good numbers of owls. Around 4:30 PM, we turned down a road and noticed an owl sitting atop a bare pole. We got out of the car and fired away, getting much better photos of this owl than the one we had seen earlier.

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), Summerton Road, Rosebush, MI
The owl didn't seem to mind us at all until something distance caught its attention and it flew off into the adjacent agricultural field. We drove a little further east and saw one last owl just before sunset from about 200 yards away in an open field and called it a day. My dad was thrilled with the photos he got of the owl, and the trip was considered a success. It was a great way to spend a Saturday, and I hope we can do more photography stuff like this in the future.

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