Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Hoot of Time!

On Sunday I got a report of a Snowy Owl fairly close to my house.  I get all excited when these come in because it gives me a bit of a "starting point" when I want to head out and look for some.

When I got to the area the bird had been reported from...there was absolutely nothing. I parked on the roadside at various angles and searched with my binos everywhere...not a sign! I figured that I was already out here looking, so I may as well keep going!  I started to drive past Tilbury to a spot I remembered seeing one in the dark on my drive home from the Windsor Airport the week previous.  As I was driving and scanning the fields I suddenly noticed a bird flying!  My brain automatically assumed it was a crow (in Chatham...you tend to assume anything dark and flying is a crow..there's SO MANY OF THEM).  

I started to second guess myself when I was like "Shit...if that's a crow it has one hell of a wingspan, and is bicoloured...OMG IT'S A SNOWY OWL!!".  I hopped out of the car and watched in awe as it flew over. I had realized the true size of them before this moment.  Unfortunately I was in such a moment that I didn't take a photo. I drove over to where it landed in a nearby field and was able to spot it through my binos.  Of course it was smack in the middle of the field so the photo I was able to snap of it is the one below.  It adds a bit of a "game" to it...Instead of where's waldo it is where's the owl!.  With all the clumps of dirt and snow it certainly blends in well!
Snowy Owl in the middle of a field.
After a little while, I continued down the road and spotted this red-tailed hawk.

Red-Tailed Hawk

I continued up towards Lake St. Clair and zig-zagged my way through a variety of concessions to see if there was anything other than turbines around.  I spotted a flock fly across the road and land in a field. At first I assumed they would be snow buntings, but then with a closer look....horned larks!  First time seeing them this year.  I first ID'd these guys while working in farm fields and hearing their call. They would always dart away from me before I was able to find my binoculars to see what they were.
Flock of Horned Larks
 A little while later I was just north of Tilbury heading back towards Chatham when I spotted something out in one of the fields!  Pulled over and took a look hoping to find that it was another snowy owl (but meanwhile I was assuming it was just another large chunk of mud).  I was completely wrong!  It was actually a fox, curled up beside a frozen puddle, smack in the middle of the farm field!  I really wish that the fox was in focus and I could have zoomed the photo in a bit more.  It was really, really adorable!
Red Fox
It's funny. Having grown up in the Chatham-Kent area I always thought it was such a boring place that was just full of fields and nothingness.  Now when I come home with this appreciation for nature and addiction to constantly looking around me....I see that there is so much around us here...you just have to look for it.  The same can go for almost anywhere.  So friends...no matter where you are or where you go...always keep your eyes open and your binos ready!

Happy Naturing!