Sunday, December 13, 2015

Oak Hammock Marsh Short-eared Owls

On November 28th we went to Oak Hammock Marsh with Christian Artuso, as a last birding outing before we left to Florida, as we would miss the Oak Hammock Marsh Christmas bird count, which we have been going to for several years.
We are going to leave to Florida on Wednesday, early in the morning. We are planning to come back on the 30th of December (the day before my birthday). It's a three day drive (stopping for the nights) to Florida.
We will see a lot of new birds, and we have scoped out some more uncommon birds that we would like to see, such as Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Florida Scrub Jay. I will try to give updates, and occasional photos, but it won't be until after we get back that I'll make a full post.

Now for Oak Hammock Marsh...

We were planning to see Short-eared Owls, which are most active around dusk, so we left in the afternoon. That way we had the light for Snowy Owls and when it got darker we could see the Short-eared Owls.

Near the entrance at Oak Hammock Marsh, there was a Snowy Owl on a hay bale, and from the vehicle we could get some nice photos.

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl
 And at the entrance to Oak Hammock Marsh, another one!
Snowy Owl
 We started seeing Short-eared Owls soon enough. The first one was far away, but we then saw some on fence posts by the road.
Short-eared Owl
 Sunset came quickly, it does on these Winnipeg winter days. Photos are a lot more difficult when it's darker, but luckily the owls a lot of the time were just sitting, but flight shots were very hard.
Short-eared Owl in flight
 It was special to see a Short-eared Owl dive and catch a vole (or something of the sort) and start eating it!
Short-eared Owl in a field with vole
Short-eared Owl with vole

Short-eared Owl
 You can see that this flight shot is very blurry..
Short-eared Owl

 I had to lighten a lot of these photos quite a bit, they were a lot darker before.
Short-eared Owl
On the way home we saw two Great-horned Owls. The total tally of owls: 2 Snowy Owls, 2 Great-horned Owls and 8 Short-eared Owls.