Monday, January 13, 2014

Snowy Owls, Townsend's Solitaire & More

Over the last few months the weather has been rather temperamental, thus decent photo opportunities have been few and far between. I have been lucky to see a few rare birds in our area, though. In November, I was able to photograph a handsome Eared Grebe at Montrose Harbor in Chicago. I also drove to Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve in South Elgin to catch a glimpse of a pretty Townsend's Solitaire dining on juniper berries. I assume the berries are plentiful, as I heard a report today that the bird continues to remain at the preserve.

The month of December brought Snowy Owls galore! These owls are not often seen in our area. During the last month of 2013, I saw seven of these magnificent creatures. I visited Montrose Pier in Chicago and to my delight, observed four golden-eyed Snowy Owls at once. The other three were spotted separately in Michigan.

At the end of November, Bruce and I vacationed in Longboat Key, Florida . Unfortunately, the weather left much to be desired. Fierce winds, cool temperatures, rain and gray skies made photography difficult, though I was able to add a few life birds to my list including an American Oystercatcher.

Below I feature several of the beautiful birds observed over the last few months.

An American Oystercatcher seeks food along the shoreline

Two handsome Great Blue Herons nestle into the mangrove leaves

A trio of striking White Pelicans swim in Sarasota Bay

A regal Osprey, gar in talons, perches on a dead limb

Searching for prey in Montrose Harbor ~ Eared Grebe

A stunning male Hooded Merganser enjoys a quiet morning at North Pond

Floating peacefully in the Harbor ~ Red-breasted Mergansers

A Townsend's Solitaire sits amid the blue juniper berries

Seeking shelter from wintry weather and pesky crows ~ Snowy Owl

Perched atop the fishook pier at Montrose Beach, a Snowy Owl dozes

A beautiful Snowy Owl peers out from a drainage ditch in Michigan

Hunting in the vast corn field ~ Snowy Owl