Friday, February 26, 2010

Snowy Owls and More

Three Bridges Road

I took a drive after work one sunny afternoon along my favourite country roads north of the city. I was on the look out for Snowy Owls, Rough-legged Hawks, an elusive Red-shouldered Hawk and whatever else might catch my eye. If I found nothing but rays of sunshine, I would have been satisfied.

It is always interesting to drive by well kept Mennonite mixed farms and to see people going about their daily business. Flocks of Snow Buntings flew between corn fields and the edge of the gravel road and Horned Larks sang their tinkling tunes from fence posts.

Photographers and Snowy Owl

I turned onto another road and saw a line of vehicles parked near a field. A group of photographers were focused on a female Snowy Owl sitting on the ground. This was my first Snowy Owl sighting of the winter but I didn't stop because the area was busy enough already. There are many responsible wildlife photographers, but some will disturb birds hoping to get an exceptional picture. Some birding forums are discouraging birders from reporting rare sightings to protect the birds from harassment. On the way home I drove by the section of river where a Red-shouldered Hawk had been seen on a regular basis. A photographer with big gear had parked his pickup truck on an angle blocking half the roadway so he could get a picture of the hawk. He effectively stopped anyone else approaching the area.

Song Sparrow

I enjoy taking pictures of birds, but am just as happy watching them or focusing through my binoculars. I prefer to walk along a path rather than parking myself for long periods of time waiting for one bird. Recently, Raymond Barlow, a skilled local nature photographer, shared his photos and tips at a photography club. As a professional he spends many hours in the field looking for wildlife but he is committed to ethical practices in his work. He has a blog on nature photography called Nature Images Online Magazine that is well worth checking out.

Near the end of my little road trip, I saw my first Song Sparrow of the season. Maybe he was telling me that spring is just around the corner and that he would stay long after the Snowy Owls, Snow Buntings and Horned Larks went north again.


  1. I really like the respect you show towards nature. Good captures all. Yes, I have to believe spring is on the way here. Even though it will be fall in South Africa.

  2. Poor snowy owl--such an object of oggling!

    Let's hope your song sparrow is right...because if you get spring, we here further south will surely get it.

  3. I enjoy taking pictures of birds,but do not endorse harressment.A good picture is wonderful but only if the bid was able to go about its business undisturbed.

  4. I surely hope that's what the sparrow was signing about.

  5. I have yet to see a snowy owl, but I too probably would have passed that opportunity. I would hate to be that bird not sure what to do. Can cause too much stress. I love the pic of the song sparrow. Even with all this snow we received this week, spring is just around the corner. Like you, I enjoy taking country rides...there is so much to see off the beaten path.


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