Tuesday, February 26, 2013

More Life List Birds

Northern Hawk Owl

On February 22 I returned to Ontario Canada with long time friend and awesome birder Joe Demarco. we met friends Chris White and Bob Adamowicz in Ottawa to enjoy our outdoor experience together.   We were initially looking for Northern Hawk Owl, Great Gray Owl, Saw Whet Owl and Boreal Owl to add to Joe's life list.  The first afternoon we were successful at finding a Northern Hawk Owl near a location where Joan and I had seen one three weeks before.  We watched teh owl for about an hour and then moved on to potential snowy owl areas and found none of them.  As the afternoon drew to a close we traveled to where Joan and I had seen 4 Great Gray Owls.  Joan was able to spot one and we watched it until almost dark sitting on a perch occluded by branches.

We returned to teh spot prior to daylight and found the owl perched in a much more viewable position. The liught snow falling made for an awesome image.
Great Gray Owl

We had heard about Bohemian Waxwings, gray partridge, Barrow's Golden Eye , Pine Warblers and Black Back Woodpeckers being in the area so off we went in search of these birds.  We found teh Bohemian Waxwings perched in a tree in a downtown residential section of Ottawa.  beautiful bird and they provided us with no photo opportunities.  From there we traveled a short distance to a marshy area and sighted another great Gray Owl-what a beautiful and majestic bird!  We stopped at a parking area and hiked back along a trail that was overhung by trees loaded with snow-a really pretty walk.  Chickadees were bombarding us as it turns out this is a favorite place for families to take their children to hand feed teh Black Capped Chickadees.  It was truly wonderful to watch. 
We left the trail for a short distance in a burned out area and soon we had spotted the female Black Back Woodpecker hammering away on a tall tree. It was interesting to watch the bird hammer away at the tree and strip chunks of bark from the tree.  We also spotted hairy Woodpeckers in the same area.

Female Black Back Woodpecker

We spent the remainder of the afternoon looking for Snowy Owls. We finally located one sitting on top of an upturned stump in a farmer's field south of Kanata.  It was a male and was quite far off and did not provide any suitable photo opportunities. 

An acquaintance in Ottawa alerted us to a spotting of a Boreal Owl. My cell phone was acting up so we did not get the messages until after dark on Saturday evening.  So on Sunday morning we headed off to the spot of the Boreal owl.  We found where it had been perched in a Cedar Tree the previous day-there were pellets and owl poop down the tree trunk.  A search of the area yielded another 6 or 8 trees where teh owl had previously perched. We toured the farm areas looking for more Snowy Owls but only saw crows, ravens, Horned Larks and Snow Buntings. We headed home about noon. We stopped in a place near Syracuse NY where I know a Saw Whet Owl has been seen.  We found once again fresh perch areas but did not see the owl. 

It was a fun and enjoyable trip! 

Red Squirrel along Lime Kiln Trail

Until Next Time

Jim Borden

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Great Gray Owls

Full Frame 600MM image at about 50 feet

Joan and I traveled to Ontario Canada last weekend to view and photograph Great Gray Owls.  This is an irruption year for this species and there are quite a few of the owls in Ontario.  Irruptions are about 4 to 7 years apart and this is teh largest irruption in a long time.  We saw 4 of the Great Gray Owls where we were visiting.  We also got to see a Northern Hawk Owl.  We were fortunate enough to see the owls feeding one day. 
Great Gray coming along ground searching for food

Great Gray Owl getting ready to attack a mouse

Great Gray Owl with Breakfast

Great Gray Owl resting on stub at end of day

Coming in for Landing

until next time

Jim Borden