Thursday, March 28, 2013

Short Eared Owl - March 28, 2013

Short Eared Owl - Shot by Conor

Today was Clare's birthday. (Happy Birthday Clare!! I can't believe how quickly your growing up.) Conor and I had left dinner and were near to where I had seen the horned owls a few weeks ago. I thought we would just drive by and see if they were around. The sun was starting to set and I didn't anticipate taking any photo's as it was starting to get dark. When we drove to site where the Horned owls were last seen I saw something sitting high up in a tree. I pulled over to take a look. We couldn`t tell what it was from the road and Conor wasn`t real interested in stopping but he called dibs in looking through the camera and lens first and I said "Ok". This seemed to get his interest up and soon he was telling me what was in the tree. It turned out the `thing` was a bald eagle. We made a small attempt to get closer - which ment getting out of the car, walking down into the ditch and maybe climbing through a barbed wire fence. Shortly after getting out of the car the eagle was off and flying away. Bummer.

We drove a little further and looked at the tree where I think the Horned owls are nesting. Conor still had the camera and in looking said he didn't see anything I drove closer and parked the car. I looked and could see an owl in the nest, we got out and tried to go into the field to get closer. Quite soon after entering the field the nesting owls mate flew off. I didn't really see it until it was flying away. We walked through some really deep snow (made worse because we didn`t have proper foot ware) to get a view of the nest which is pretty high up in a tree on the outside edge of the tree cluster. Rubber boots are definitely needed right now as the field is quite wet and muddy our feet got pretty wet. Not wanting to disturb the nesting owl we soon left and made our way back to the car.

We were driving south back to the highway when I mentioned to Conor that this was the time of year that I'd seen short eared owls in the field near this location and they they fly in this real neat loopy way just above the field in the evenings as they hunt for food. I think their migratory and I wasn't sure when they would actually be around. I'd read of sightings near Frank Lake earlier this year. I told Conor he should look out for them and just after I said that I saw one flying above the field!

I excitedly pointed it out to Conor - who still had the camera in his hands. The short eared owl landed on a fence post and I tried to move the car close to it so Conor could take some shots. The owl was kind enough to wait a bit while Conor made some photos. Soon it flew off and we watched it almost bounce across the field. A couple of times it turned hard and dove at the ground. Both of us said "WOW" at the owls acrobatic flying abilities.

Driving again, we were scanning fence posts and spotted another one. By now the light was pretty low and it would have been difficult to get any good photos. This second owl didn't wait around either. It flew off pretty quickly after we slowed the car.

A few minutes later we spotted a coyote in the field. So, In a period of about 40 minutes we saw a bald eagle, two horned owls, two short eared owls, a coyote and hundreds of geese and ducks that are gathering in the fields. Spring must be in the air.

Thanks for looking.