Saturday, January 2, 2010

Snow? Yes. Snowy Owl? Not so much.

Bonaparte's Gulls
A walk along the ocean gave a reprieve from the relentless wind and gave me a chance of seeing the (a?) Snowy Owl perched on the beach, away from the wind.  Well, no owl, but I did see/photograph some Horned Grebes (at a considerable distance) in the Atlantic Ocean.  I also saw a black and white bird that was sitting on the beach, spot me, then take off straight up into the air and fly away at an impressive speed.  No idea what it was, but quite a few species can be ruled out (Loon, Grebe) because they are not capable of walking onto shore and would not be able to take off like that.  I'm leaning toward either a Dovekie or a Black Guillemot which do have the ability to walk on shore, but I don't know if they can take off straight up in the air like that.  There were several Bonaparte's Gulls hanging out close to sure and not minding my presence, which allowed for some nice close shots of them (still crappy lighting though) compared to the awful photographs I got of them yesterday.  When I got back to my car I was quite cold and cursing my laziness in not properly searching for the Snowy Owl yesterday.

Surprise Northern Harrier
While cruising Meadow Lane I saw on the bay side a Northern Harrier hunting.  I stopped the car and grabbed the camera, only to see that my view was rather "foggy".  Turns out the cold camera, when brought into the warm car, resulted in the glass fogging up . . . I quickly tried to clear off the lens but didn't really have the right equipment and lost sight of the Harrier.  As I continued to drive East along Meadow Ln. in disappointment, I spotted the bird again.  I grabbed my camera and lowered the window (the lens had cleared up) and followed the hawk as it zigzagged across the road going from the Ocean Dune's to the flooded marshes.  At Rd. D it made a pass at a large group of Robins and Starlings that were feeding away, but continued East.  I knew there was a parking area up the road along with an expansive marshland that came right up to the road and figured this would be my only chance.  I got there before the harrier, and as the snow blew in my face I locked onto the hawk as it gave me a quick fly by - the wind pushing it toward me before it used its wings to overpower the natural forces and fly out over the bay.  The lighting was terrible, the shutterspeed was a little slower than I would like, and there is some noise, but these are easily the best Northern Harrier shots I've taken.  

The rest of the morning didn't yield much, some Hooded Mergansers along Sebonac Inlet Rd. (I didn't put any effort into spotting the Black Guillemot) as well a pair of Immature Mute Swans currently feeding in my back yard in Beaver Dam Creek.  Tomorrow's weather looks awful, so I'll have to wait until next weekend.  

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