I Went Looking for a Snowy Owl and Got Barn Owls in Flight

/, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, Birds, Box Elder County, Utah/I Went Looking for a Snowy Owl and Got Barn Owls in Flight

Barn Owl in thick fog at Bear River Migratory Bird RefugeBarn Owl in thick fog at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

There has been a Snowy Owl reported at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge so yesterday Jolie Gordon and myself went up there in my Jeep to see if we could find it. The fog was icy, heavy, thick and we could feel ice particles on our skin. The conditions were dreadful.  We went slow and carefully looked for the owl on the playa s even before we got to the auto tour route. Actually we started looking for the Snowy Owl before we even got off of I-15. We dipped on the Snowy Owl and got Barn Owls in flight instead.

Everyone who was looking for the Snowy Owl dipped on it.

Fog and a Barn Owl in flightFog and a Barn Owl in flight – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/4000, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

We saw about 11 Barn Owls yesterday morning but the last one we saw was the most cooperative. I drove in front of the Barn Owl and then maneuvered my Jeep so we had a clear view of the Barn Owl flying right at us next to the road. When it passed by us it was so close I clipped the owls wings even though I was using full frame (FX) mode on my D810.

A close up of a Barn Owl on a foggy flightA close up of a Barn Owl on a foggy flight – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/6400, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I usually try to avoid being so close to my subject that I clip wings, tails or feet but in this case it was the Barn Owl who decided the distance between us.

Part of the reason we struggled so much yesterday to find the Snowy along with everyone else who was searching for it was the thick fog that enveloped the refuge. My cell phone pictures below show those conditions.

Heading south on the auto tour loopHeading south on the auto tour loop

Looking east on the auto tour loopLooking east on the auto tour loop

A wall of thick fogA wall of thick fog

Looking north at the Bear RiverLooking north at the Bear River

Trying to find a white Snowy Owl in fields of white snow in a foggy white out. Next to impossible!

But we got to see and photograph the Barn Owls and they were very much worth the drive. And it isn’t every day that I can say I went looking for a Snowy Owl and got Barn Owls in flight instead at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

Life is good.

Mia

12 Comments

  1. Utahbooklover February 12, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Nice images, especially the first one. A snowy owl nearby is exciting — thanks.

  2. Charlotte (Prairie Birder) February 11, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    I would give my right arm to see a Barn Owl — terrific photos, Mia!

  3. Elephant's Child February 11, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Hooray for the Barn Owl. A truly magnificant sight.
    And hooray for another ‘site’ being returned to the people. And a bigger hooray for the other site being returned to the wild life.

  4. Cindy February 11, 2016 at 9:38 am

    All the images are superb but there is a loneliness to the first image, the low light and fog (smog) and the lone owl in search of food. It almost seems a metaphor for life—always in search yet we all walk, or fly, alone. Of the land and yet not. Thank you Mia.

  5. Patty Chadwick February 11, 2016 at 7:45 am

    After 6 weeks of selfish idiocy, and a senseless death, it sounds like Malheur occupiers are finally going to go away…thank God!

    • Mia McPherson February 11, 2016 at 7:49 am

      Patty, I think the best news last night was the arrest of ole Cliven Bundy, the leader of the cult of Bundy. I sure wouldn’t mind seeing more arrested that have aided and abetted them.

      • Patty Chadwick February 11, 2016 at 10:06 am

        They broke the law…the whole bunch belongs in jail…but then we’d have to feed, clothe, shelter, medicate and educate( if that’s even possible) them at public expense…

  6. Patty Chadwick February 11, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Sorry you didn’t find the Snowy, but the “consolation prize” shots of the barn owl are terrific! Also love the “related” barn owl shots below in the phragmites…..

  7. Bob McPherson February 11, 2016 at 6:26 am

    Yep, beautiful shots Mia. Your owls are certainly a favorite. Please take a bow.

  8. Roger Burnard February 11, 2016 at 5:57 am

    YOU NAILED THOSE SHOTS OF THE OWL MIA… WAAAAY TO GO!!!
    IT’S ALWAYS EXCITING WHEN YOU ARE “ON THE HUNT” FOR A
    PARTICULAR CRITTER. I WISH YOU MUCH SUCCESS FINDING
    THE SNOWY OWL… ;-))))

  9. Molly February 11, 2016 at 5:39 am

    I never realized that the barn owl had freckled body feathers. A guess it took a closer-up image to help me notice. Beauty.

    • Patty Chadwick February 11, 2016 at 7:35 am

      Those “freckles” are stardust….

Comments are closed.