Owls, Owls and More Owls!

Apparently Sarah and I picked a good year to get into this birding thing!  With the irruption (not eruption) that’s happening this year, we’ve had some really good looks at Snowy Owls in the onion fields just outside of Point Pelee. But best of all has to be the Great Gray Owl – a truly amazing bird.  If you are lucky enough to see one up close, you may find yourself lost in its powerful stare and beauty.  It was such a powerful experience for some that it brought them to tears — literally. 

Thanks to Sarah Rupert for letting me know about this bird! Sorry to Mika, our cat, for scary the $#!* out of her as I ran around the house looking for my binoculars and camera. The news of the Great Gray in the area spread quickly.  It was all over the local newspapers, local TV, and it even garnered some national coverage!

This was the first record for a Great Gray Owl in Essex county; a bird which is normally found in the boreal forest.  We happen to live close to the area that the bird was being seen in — an area that was jam-packed with people the entire time it was around.  It caused quite a commotion for the local residents, the OPP,  and I assume, the bird itself.  After spending a few weeks here, it has since moved on, hopefully to a more remote location.  This was an experience I will not soon forget. 

On to more owls… On the Christmas Bird Count, on Boblo, Sarah and I got good looks at a Great Horned Owl as it flew down the river – I also had another one at Holiday Beach.  We were also fortunate to hear about a location, again not far from our house, where Short-eared Owls come out to hunt in the late afternoon.  It’s pretty amazing watching fight for food and space with the Northern Harriers in the area. 

The owl species list doesn’t stop there!  Eastern Screech owls have been popping their heads out for us, especially at Point Pelee and on one of the Christmas Bird Counts.

The latest species added to my list was a Long-eared owl at Holiday Beach.  I joined an ECFN owl hike and was fortunate enough to be the one to spot a Long-eared owl hugging a tree trunk.  A great experience for a lifer!  I have to find one for Sarah now because I feel really guilty – she was at work and I was trudging through the bush and adding to my life list.

Still looking for the elusive (at least for me) Northern Saw-whet owl…though I do have a fantastic drawing of one by Russ Jones which Sarah bought me for our anniversary.

Unfortunately I don’t have very good photos of most of the owls because I only have a 300mm lens and I tend to hang back to give the owls some space.

Great Gray Owl – Silhouette

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl

Snowy Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared & Harrier

Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl

E. Screech Owl

E. Screech Owl

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