It was snowing, blowing, cloudy and foggy yesterday morning heading north on I-215 towards Farmington Bay WMA but the traffic was light and as usual the “birds” were calling to me. Since I started photographing birds years ago it has become a tradition for me to go out into the field on holidays to find and photograph birds because there are fewer people out and about and Christmas Day is no exception.
The light was disappointing, it was cold and the falling snow probably didn’t help much but I kept hoping to find a bird to make my day.
Thanks to Dennis Hammer, another local bird and wildlife photographer, that bird was a Long-eared Owl that he pointed out from inside his black Jeep that he had spotted earlier. I am grateful he shared his find and respect him for doing it. I am certain I would have spotted the owl without Dennis pointing it out but I believe in giving credit where credit is due, it is the right thing to do.
I have to say that I was flabbergasted to see this Long-eared Owl at Farmington Bay because I wouldn’t expect to see one there. I also have to say that I was delighted because it was the first time I had a Long-eared Owl in my viewfinder, a lifer on Christmas Day!
The owl didn’t open fully its eyes often so it was a waiting game to see if it would and when it did I was ready.
As much as I would have preferred better light to photograph the owl in I like the mood of the images I took, I like the flakes of falling snow they contain and how fluffed up the owl was from the cold.
I took several hundred images of this Long-eared Owl as it perched on a rusty old post and most of those images will be deleted because I couldn’t see the eyes of the owl or the light had changed and my exposure wasn’t the best but I know that I will treasure the memory of this lifer I photographed on Christmas Day. It has also made me want to go out and find more Long-eared Owls to photograph in much better light. They are nocturnal and during the day they can be hard to find because they roost in trees and blend right in to that kind of environment.
The Long-eared Owl stirred on the post and I was able to get one image of it in flight that I didn’t clip as it headed towards a snow bank and landed next to the water. I should mention that three of the owl’s primaries had caused me concern while I photographed it perched on the post because at times they stood out at an odd angle and I worried that the owl was injured but it flew without any difficulties and Dennis had seen it fly a few times too. I’m still not sure why those primaries stuck out the way they did so any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated.
I am so thrilled that I was able to photograph this Long-eared Owl and snow at Farmington Bay yesterday. What a wonderful gift.
Life is good.
Thanks again to Dennis Hammer for pointing out the owl!