February 21, 2015

Owl Hunt IV

Ice washing up like shards of broken glass on the shore of Lake Ontario

Forgive me Blogger, for I have sinned. It has been over five months since my last post and I have not been out looking at the birds in all that time. Now that we've got that little bit of sacrilegious humour out of the way, we can get on with the first important entry of the year: The annual Owl Hunt!

Our team was a little smaller this year - maybe the thrill of freezing your asses off looking for some stupid birds is wearing off for some in the fourth year - but the most hardcore of us, Mark, Ben and me, went out on February 1st to see if we could top last year's incredible numbers.

I'm not going to lie, it was cold that day... and for the first time, I was the last one to arrive. It might even be the first year I wasn't the first one to arrive. I had trouble getting the car defrosted. I hadn't counted on needing 20 minutes before I could see out of the windshield. But once I got there, we were ready to go. I was kitted out with a new set of Christmas long underwear to battle the temperatures (still haven't figured out a good glove situation though).

We got off to a slow start (out in Whitby, as has become the norm). No owls on our first stop, but lots of activity along the feeder trail at Lynde Shores CA, including some good looks at a couple of less-than-expected birds.

Left: A Red-bellied Woodpecker letting us have a look at him.   Right: One of a dozen Brown-headed Cowbirds that flew in.

But the 2015 Owl Hunt really got started at our second stop. Right at the side of the road was this beautiful Barred Owl. It was as close as, if not closer than, the one we saw in almost the exact same place two years ago during Owl Hunt II.
Could it be the same owl?

Compare with this guy from 2013:

After checking a few more areas around Whitby (and failing) we headed to the area north of Lake Scugog to scour the telephone poles and fenceposts for Snowy Owls as we did last year. I didn't think we could top last year's count of seven, but we actually found eight Snowys and one more Barred Owl. I will only bore you with a couple of the better ones. The icing on the cake for me was my first adult male, found in the last moments of daylight - he was so white he was almost blue.

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