It always sadden me a little when I come to realize that my beloved Bald Eagles are leaving rivers of Illinois and headed back North. It was a great year, 9 trips to the Mississippi, and over 8500 photos still to edit.
To fill the void, I took a chance and started looking for Snowy Owls. The extreme cold along with the population explosion has forced Snowy Owls farther South that normal. Once I learned that there was at least one within 35 miles of my home, The search was on.
I strongly recommend using www.eBird.com to track any migratory birds. Here is a link to my posted sightings.
After one trip on the weekend of 2/15 and 2/16 I was hooked!
They are supper skittish, and even though I have a 500mm lens, I couldn’t get close enough for full frame photos.
The following weekend, Friday 2/21/14 I went back and couldn’t find the snowy owl in Marshall County. It made me more determined to find them. I got up early Saturday morning 2/22/14 and headed North to Lee County. Several forums I belong too as well as several Facebook groups had been posting really nice Snowy Owl photos from Lee County. Reports of 11 – 14 birds in a 8 mile block had my curiosity peaked.
I logged close to 300 miles over 9 hours and found 3 owls.
Driving that many miles and that much wheel time, other wildlife was found.
Red Tail Hawk
A total of 5 Red Fox were found. The last one was pretty funny, he just took off running and I saw something moving, so I sped up and got out of front of him. He was locked onto a skunk. He got pretty close before he turned and ran away. He went up next to a silo and really started cleaning himself. I believe he got a face full of spray. The skunk got away, and I got shots of all of it.
Saturday the temp when I started out was 23, but mid day temps got up to 33. I was mostly driving on frozen dirt roads. With all the recent rain and thaw there was at least three times the ice under the car gave way and I was axle deep busting my way through ice and water, I thought I was screwed! I hammered down and made it out, I could hear the ice hitting the bottom of the car. After the last and longest run of ice and water I backed off a couple long flooded ice floats and found a different way around. See I can learn.
My current car has never been so dirty. I stopped to hit a bathroom and grab a drink, and couldn’t get out of the car because doors were frozen shut.
What is up next on my bucket list? Not really sure, but hopefully back on a golf course in less than a month!
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