Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sax-Zim Bog 1/18--GREAT GRAY OWL

Look for the birders, not the bird. That strategy worked well when we drove back to Sax-Zim after first checking out the Northern Hawk Owl again, as well as stopping along the road to admire another Rough-legged Hawk. Along Highway 7 we came across a small flock of 20 Snow Buntings which flew back and forth along the railroad tracks enough times so that everyone in the two vehicles could get good views of them.

But it was an owl we were looking for now, and the day was getting late. We had heard from a couple of photographers at breakfast that they had seen the owl at 9 PM (using flashlights) at the feeder where we saw the jay and chickadee the other day. As we approached that feeder there was a long line of cars parked across from it. We stopped, all got out quietly (don't slam that door!) and approached from behind the line of vehicles and there, as if on display, was one magnificent mammal killing machine, the largest owl in the world, the GREAT GRAY OWL, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Sometimes the owl looked at me (or looked like it was) and it made me shiver. Sibley describes its gaze as "imposing," and he's right. At well over 2 feet tall this owl dwarfs the 22" Great Horned. We all stood around, taking pictures, whispering about how awesome this bird was, until some guy in a pick up stopped in the road right in front of the owl and asked "whatcha got," which flushed the bird. I didn't mind, but a few photographers were steaming.

As if that wasn't enough, we had a second bird about mile away, though the looks were more distant. But it is such a big owl that even at distance you can make it out well. Then, at dusk, we went back to our original location and the owl and come out again, posing magnificently atop the stump of a broken tree. Our 7th (and last) life bird of the trip.

5 species
Gray Jay
Black-capped Chickadee  2
Boreal Chickadee  1
Common Redpoll  75

No comments:

Post a Comment