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Monday, January 28, 2013

Feathers and Friends

I'm always anxious when I'm guiding other outdoor communicators, writers, and photographers. Despite the best planning, and patterning, I'm always afraid the creatures, the weather, and any number of other variables will end up biting me in the fanny.

Luckily, Saturday was not the case. I was hosting/guiding a fellow  outdoor writer and photographer in search of the Short-eared owls.

This owl seems to always start his evening hunt from this same straggly outpost. 

You again? What are you some kind of bird paparazzi?

Diving in to snatch up a snack

There's a nice sized colony of the owls wintering in the strip pits, and as they are an Illinois endangered species, the size of their colony is news worthy.  I was delighted that the weather had taken a turn towards the warm end of the scale, opening up some of the water in the pot holes and lakes. This resulted in a large number of different waterfowl species loafing and floating around enjoying the respite form the winter weather.

The coots kept us entertained with their crazy "walk on water" antics

The owls weren't flying and feeding as early as I had anticipated so, I gave my colleague "the fifty cent tour" of the area, and we enjoyed an hour of so of great bird watching while waiting on the owls to start flying and hunting their evening meals.

Lots of ducks out loafing, feeding and flying around

Of course the snows were present to put on their afternoon show as they head out to feed in the refuge fields.

A pair of swans happily obliged us with some photo opportunities as they leisurely paddled around one of the refuge lakes.

The Great Blue Herons were feeding on mice and voles in the fields, avoiding the still icy edges of the lakes and pot holes.

Thankfully my owl karma was in good shape and the owls put on quite the show for my colleague enabling him to not only experience the awe of having a raptor sail remarkably close to his head but to also capture what I  anticipate will be some superb images.

Our most enjoyable afternoon afield came to an all too soon close as the sun began sink over the edges of the strip pit hills, bringing our "adequate shooting light window" to an end. My colleague and I parted ways  happy, content, and with plans for me to visit a migratory song  bird hotspot in his area later this spring.

Yes, I could have pitched the owl story to the publication he works for, but as I said to my colleague as we stood atop the hill in tall grass watching the acrobatic little owls, "Somethings you just can't be greedy with. Somethings you just have to share with others." 

The sunset provided us with one last photo opportunity before we parted ways

As I headed home the "Wolf Moon" began it's rise on the Eastern horizon

A closer look at our January "Wolf Moon"


  1. Wpowerful post and awesome bird shots!! A pleasure to read.

  2. I am in awe of the informative content and gorgeous pics on your blog!