Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Elusive Snowy Owl

Canon EOS 20D with 450mm ISO 400

It had to happen sooner or later, I finally got to capture some megapixels of a Snowy Owl. Actually I got a call from a friend of mine that left a message on my cell phone saying that he had seen a Snowy on several occasions while travelling on the Inverlake Road east of Chestermere Lake, Alberta. So Sunday morning I was out of the house at my normal time of 6:30AM. Travelling east on Highway 1 and approaching the Inverlake Road turnoff, I realized it was to dark for any decent captures, so I continued past the Inverlake Road turnoff on Highway 1 and took the turn into Chestermere Lake. Lately I seem to have become a regular at the Tim Horton's located on the west side of the lake. This morning though I had time to relax and browse through the paper while enjoying a cup of their finest brew. I had picked a table where I could keep a eye on the horizon. With clear skies and the horizon getting a nice glow, It would not be long before I headed out.

Back on Highway 1 , I only had a short drive to the Inverlake Road where I pulled the truck over and checked my camera with my 1.4 tele-extender and my 300mm mounted in place to make sure everything was ready for action as I did not want any miscues if I spotted a Snowy. I had decided I would use a ISO setting of 400 because of the morning light still not as bright as I would have liked and I did not want any issues with slow shutter speeds causing blurry captures. So- off I went east on the Inverlake Road towards the sunrise due very shortly. I had progressed several kilometers when I made out the shape of what I hoped was a Snowy perched on the insulator of the power-line running parallel to the road that I was on. It was and I slowed my truck to a crawl, wondering how much closer that I should approach. The Snowy was looking nervous-so I stopped the truck-although I'll bet not as nervous as I was. I shut off the engine and placed my bean-bag in the open window. With my camera in place-I began firing off frames of this fine looking Snowy which I believe could be a first year bird-or a female based on the coloring as older birds will be pure white. I love the astonished and slightly annoyed look this Snowy is giving me. I decided I had enough insurance shots and started my truck to edge closer, alas it was not to be as the Snowy flew the coop so to speak. She did not go far as she landed on a high spot in a stubble field, where she perched on the ground for sometime. Finally I decided to move on as she was out of the range of my camera.

Canon EOS 20D with 10-22 @ 15mm ISO 100

During winter in Southern, Alberta and other parts of Canada, Snowy Owls inhabit prairies and open fields, habitats that resemble the treeless tundras of their breeding range. My capture of the open country of Southern, Alberta I believe reminds Snowy Owls of the tundra of their Arctic homes. Although some Snowys may wander in winter, many establish and defend hunting territories for two or three months. They spend much of their time perched on fence posts, haystacks, trees, buildings, utility poles such as the one that I found this Snowy perched on or other sites that the view is unrestricted. They scan the area around their perches, ready to launch a silent attack on a mouse or other prey. Unlike most owls which are nocturnal, or active only at night, the Snowy is active both night and day. Because daylight is continuous within the Arctic Circle during much of the summer nesting season, this adaption is not surprising. So for now-I leave this Snowy to continue the hunt.

Would you believe a second Snowy Owl?...

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