Friday, February 24, 2012

Photographing a Saw-whet

Yesterday, I birded with Eric and Clare who are doing a Lower 48 Big Year. Our aim was to add a couple of birds to their year list. We started out at Eagle Creek looking at waterfowl. There were not very many species around and nothing that was new for their Big Year. After a quick stop at the Ornithology Center, we headed towards Lafayette. We had a one o'clock meeting set up with Del Arvin to see the Northern Saw-whet Owls that are wintering on his property. It was a little early when we arrived so we made a stop at Celery Bog. Just like Eagle Creek, there was little to see and it was raining pretty steadily.

We were excited when we checked the radar on my phone and it showed that the rain should be clearing out right about when we arrived to look for the owls. Del meet us as we pulled into his driveway and we were quickly whisked away in his Gator, a 4-wheel drive utility cart, to look for the owls that he had staked out for us that morning.

The first Saw-whet that we stopped for was high up in the tree and barely even looked like a bird until you put your binoculars on it. It was a lifer for both Clare and Eric so they were thrilled with these less than ideal views. Along the way to the next Saw-whet, we stopped to check out one of serveral Barred Owls that call this property home.

Del had told us that our best photo opportunities were to be had with the second owl as long as it hadn't been spooked off its roost. Luckily for us, it was still there! He had a ladder set up where we could stay a comfortable, undisturbing distance from the bird while still getting amazing photos!

Full body shot of the Northern Saw-whet Owl

Upclose shot showing the Saw-whet with its eyes closed. It pretty much igrnored us the whole time we were watching it!

Our day was capped off by a single Common Redpoll that made a brief apperance while we were talking with Del about his awesome property!


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