I have just started a one week vacation, and on my first day off, I woke up with a head cold! How uncool is that? I don't feel terrible but I certainly don't feel great either. Instead of laying around hoping to feel better, I decided to go out for a back roads drive and try to spot some Snowy Owls. It seems early to some but the sightings are starting to pop up in southern Ontario and the US. I figured a drive would be nice and not too exhausting compared to a hike.
As I roared north up the Hwy 400, I envisioned seeing 1 Snowy Owl, maybe 3, maybe an astounding 10 (yes, I'm a dreamer), and the very good chance I would see not a single one. I was excited and hopeful. While I had Snowy Owl on the brain, I reminded myself to not make this outing specifically about seeing one or else I could end up very disappointed.
I got off the highway near Bradford and started the drive along the back roads. The farm fields were only partially snow covered this morning and all the little patches of snow here and there had me doing double takes to see if one was an Owl or not. Great, just what I needed on top of all the white buckets in the fields!
A good half hour or more of driving had me finally spot one way out in a field. Awesome! I also took notice to the gas light now being on in the GMC. Shit!
A quick shot of the bird through the front window. I didn't see a reason to even try for something better, like get out of the truck and stand on the side of the road with how far away he was.
I soon left the bird, scribing in my memory the spot it was sitting in the field and headed out for a fill up. Some 20 minutes later I am back in the area, find the spot, and now the Owl is gone. Argh!
I scanned the fields and came up empty. Back to the start and search the roads once again.
It wasn't long after that I suddenly took notice to a large white bird flying across the field and land in a ditch. Woo hoo! There's my Snowy! I am assuming it was anyway. What really surprised me was after the bird landed and watching with my bins that I see a second Owl in the same ditch, just a little further up. Wicked! Both are way off the road though. Oh well, not a bad start to the season with 2 Snowys lined up like that.
NOTE I did have one a week earlier along the 401 after work one night. A tease of a view in the dark, bird on the light post and I passed it doing 120k! I almost crashed the truck that night as I looked on in awe and probably blurted a few holy expletives.
Here's a couple crap shots I took through the driver's window from different angles.
Are you seeing the 2 Snowys?
Now I got out of the truck, set up the tripod, took a couple shots with full zoom, and then cropped the hell out of them!
I couldn't do much better than that. Did you take notice to the second Owl in the photo? Top right corner.
As I was about to drive away, I scanned the fields a little more and spotted a third Snowy just south of the pair. Once again, way out there and only took this shot for record/proof with my blog.
I'm grinning now. I should buy a 649 for the evening draw as I was feeling quite lucky!
I'm leaving the area, satisfied at the bird sightings but not at my photos, but I was okay with that (the season is early). I'm scanning the fields I had already passed 3 times, still hoping for another Owl. And just like that, my eyes fix on yet a fourth bird. Of course it's way the heck out there too, only this one is in a carrot field. But who could complain about seeing yet another Snowy Owl in such a short span of time in one area?
Snowy Owl #4 with a flock of Snow Buntings in the background flying by.
I tried something a little more creative with this one, not that it's done much, but what the hell...
It was a great morning finding all these birds. Much better than playing up the man cold part really well, suffering and whining, calling out for my mommy. LoL!