Saturday, January 28, 2012

Snowy Owl

I was out of town on business from the 18th through the 24th and had Saturday, the 22nd, off, so I contacted the Chicago Ornithological Society in hopes of finding a good place to go birding. I had read that a nearby park on a peninsula of Lake Michigan, Northerly Island Park, was a good place to find winter Snowy Owls and asked about what my chances might be. I got two quick responses saying that there had been Snowy Owl sightings at the park and that they had a field trip planned for that morning that started at the park.
I decided I'd join them and I'm glad I did. It turned out be a fruitful birding outing, all though not a great photography day as it was gloomy and lightly snowing. I did see four new life birds including a Snowy Owl sitting on the snow and ice of Lake Michigan. It was quite a ways out, but one field trip participant spied its head above the snow with her binoculars.
We repositioned ourselves and where able to get a fuller view as seen above. The bottom image is a full frame view to get a feel for just how far away it was. My 300mm lens is about a 6x magnifier.
Other life birds were American Black Ducks, a Long-eared Owl and my first verified Thayer's Gull. I'm sure I have seen Thayer's Gulls already, but am still not confident of my id'ing skills on this bird. I learned a few things and hope I will be apply them to birds here.


  1. Congrats on all the lifers, and the Snowy especially!! Sure looks cold in those photos...

  2. That's cool that you hooked up with a field trip! And I add my congrats on the lifers! Was it too windy? My only Lake Michigan experiences seem to have included wind that you could hardly stand up in!

    1. It was actually pretty calm. I was surprised and even though it wasn't real cold (low 20's) and I was bundled up pretty well, I was still chilled at times.