Friday, January 21, 2011

A Trip to the Bog

Last Monday, Martin Luther King Day, Art and I took a break from mudding sheetrock seams and drove up the the Sax Zim bog area for some birding.
Maybe I should clarify: Art did all of the mudding. Art also did all of the driving. Driving and slowing down and stopping so I could look for birds. I called him "my faithful driver Kato."
Art is the BEST. He isn't a birder but will patiently drive through a heavy snowfall on unplowed back roads for hours so I can look for birds.
Back to the story.
Hasty Brook is only about 30 miles from the bog. The weather really was pretty crummy- very overcast and snowing. Art had the truck in four wheel drive on most of the back roads and was able to pull a fellow and his little sedan out of a ditch.

Moving along slowly I spotted a movement off in the distance. Can you see it in the photo above?

A magnificent Great Gray Owl. His head moved back and forth, scanning for a meal. Art stopped the truck (and took out a book) while I grinned, watching the owl in the distance. He lifted off and glided to a tree closer to us. It was a perfect view.

The photo above is far from perfect but I was so thrilled to catch the owl take flight. It flew across the road in front of us and landed in a field on the other side.

We never approached the owl, but when it flew closer to the truck , I felt we were disturbing its hunt so we slowly drove away.

Moving along down the snowy roads I spotted a familiar silhouette T'd up high in a black spruce. It was this Northern Hawk Owl. Again, this bird was quite a way off and my photos are not very sharp, but they they're good enough for me!

As we watched the Northern Hawk Owl left his perch, flew to the ground and snatched up a meal. It flew back up to a snowy branch and ate its meal.
Boreal Chickadee
There are a few feeding stations in the bog that are maintained by local residents. As we pulled up to one of them and stopped the truck, I immediately heard the raspy, hoarse version of "chickadee-dee-dee" sung by a Boreal Chickadee. I had really hoped to find one. I've only seen two of them in the bog before. There was no one else to be seen on that road so Art turned the truck off right in the middle of the road and I rolled the window down. There were many Black-capped Chickadees and Pine Grosbeaks. I could hear a Boreal Chickadee out both truck windows- there were two of them! I tried my best to get them both in view at once but couldn't.

I love this picture of a Black-capped Chickadee tapping at a seed held in its toes, surrounded by lichen and snow-covered branches.
It was such a wonderful day. With the poor weather, I never expected to see so many wonderful winter visitors to the bog. It is such a special place. I've visited several times and the bog never fails to show and teach me something wonderful.
This year, for the first time, I am unable to attend the Sax Zim Bog Festival of Birds. Registration closes on January 31, so there is still time to sign up. I've always had a great time at the festival so if you're looking for a community based festival with experienced guides, fabulous local food, and of course the special birds of the far north, you really should go.

31 comments:

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

The Great Grey is a special sighting.It is so good to hear how you and your non-birding husband can get out together and enjoy each other and the birds.
Ruth

Mary said...

I would consider moving to those frigid temps to see what you see... I love Art for being your tag team member :) and i love you for sharing the good life in cold country.

Ben and Carrie Tracks said...

Incredible shots of the Great Grey Owl! We've actually never seen one close up... Glad to have stumbled across your site- looking forward to following :)

-Carrie and Ben

Montanagirl said...

Fabulous shots of the Great Gray! He's so beautiful. I have never seen one, so this was a real treat. The Chickadees are pretty cute. Nice work, Lynne.

Kathi said...

Awesome! Must see both owls and the boreal chickadee (lifers) and of course, how can one *not* love the black-capped, daintily picking at the seed between its toes. I am going to the Bog in 2012, no matter what else happens in my life!

Jayne said...

Those Grey Owl photos are simply AMAZING Lynne! So glad that you all were able to get out in Art's trusty truck and make the journey, and so pleased for you that you were so handsomely rewarded. :c)

Carolyn H said...

Lynne: That great gray owl is beyond spectacular, and I am wildly jealous! Great sighting (and photos)

Carolyn H.

troutbirder said...

Wow. That's really something Lynne. I went up there last winter and saw pretty much everthing EXCEPT and of these magnificent owls. My consolation prize this year shortly is a road trip to Ding Darling and Corkscrew you know where. :) Maybe I can still get up there when we get back.

Nina said...

Lynne, these are wonderful shots.
I would have been bawling just to be so close, eyes all fuzzy, lenses fogged.
You saw the bird that I've vowed to see one time before I die.
Lucky girl.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Thanks for the kind words everyone. You all are welcome to come up to Hasty Brook and look for winter owls.

Ben and Carrie: thanks for stopping by here.

Ruth said...

You pictures make me want to drive to Minnesota.

Anonymous said...

Lynne, you say your photos are not
very sharp, but good enough for
you. Good for you!! No staged or
phony backgrounds, just natural
photography, and that's good
enough for me. Your photos are
excellent to me.
Hap in New Hope

RuthieJ said...

Great post Lynne! It almost felt like I was there with you guys! (the great gray in flight is an awesome shot!)
I don't think I'll be able to make it to the festival this year either, but fortunately, I too have a "driver" who would be willing to chauffeur me around on the back roads of the bog, so going to try and make it up there yet in February.

Kerri said...

Oh what a very special day! My hubby does the same for me .... we are two lucky ladies!
I have never seen an owl in the wild before ..... your captured them beautifully! And i LOVE LOVE LOVE the one of him in flight!

KaHolly said...

Lynne, Lynne, Lynne, what a marvelous day you had!! Thank goodness for the loving patience of our non-birding friends and family, huh?? ~karen

LauraHinNJ said...

Lucky you!

Murr Brewster said...

Wow are you lucky. Great photos, and not only do you have the eyes to see, but they T up for you. I got my binoculars out today to make out what kind of birds were flocking in profusion at the top of a winter tree here. Uh, they were leaves. D'oh.

Kelly said...

Oh my gosh...that Great Gray Owl is crazy cool. There is something about his face that is so intense. The Northern Hawk Owl is gorgeous too. Glad Art took you around that day!!!

Kathiesbirds said...

Lynne, what wonderful sightings! You are making me drool with envy! Oh how I would love to see all of those species! I don't like to disturb birds when they are eating either. We saw a harrier capture something at the beach last weekend and I, too, had Gus drive away so we would not disturb it as it fed. It's far too cold and they work so hard for their food!

Sarah Knight said...

Cool shots!

NettieYork said...

those are GREAT! that owl pic is stunning!! love the chickadee tapping a seed too.

MojoMan said...

Your photos are simply amazing, Lynne! Are those three winter visitors to your area, or year-round residents?

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

MojoMan- All three are winter visitors from the FAR north. I believe there are a few Great Grays that are thought to nest in the bog though.

blobbybirdman said...

What a fabulous post. I birded Sax Zim with a friend from Minneapolis last year, no great gray owls but I had an amazing time. So sad, I can't make it back up again this year

Leedra said...

Oh, to actually see an owl out in nature. I probably would forget I have a camera in my hand--that is if I actually did.

dAwN said...

Wow! Awesome photos of the owls! What a wonderful area you have to go to up there..and what a nice hubby!

Larry said...

Wow! Outstanding! I would be so excited to see any of those birds you mentioned-especially the owls though. I'm visiting the Adirondacks this spring. Maybe I'll have some luck.

Gunnar Engblom said...

Lynne, I just saw this post. Sorry to have missed it when it was fresh. I bet you are enjoying spring now. That was a lot of snow. But with such rewards. I miss those big owls from Sweden. Love the Great Grey Owl.

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