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.
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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Thanks for stopping by!
Thanks for sharing your experience. The pictures are great and I enjoy viewing them. Do you really think we are at the end of the eagle viewing season. It is to be cold again this next week. I’m still looking for my first trip out to the L & D 14. Perhaps I should wait until next year to photograph eagles and just practice on the red tail hawks in my area for now.
Who really knows, but I believe that last big rain has really opened up the waterways. Historical they are gone by March. Don’t get me wrong, we have more local birds that stay year round, but the mass and the predictable action is winding down. If I chase anything next weekend, it will be owls to the north.
your pictures are awesome, I really enjoy them
Thank you! I just enjoy being outside and with nature. I try to help capture the moments for others who can’t get out and enjoy it in person.
The one with the barn in the background is spectacular!
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