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


TexWisGirl said...

i just LOVE when you post!!!! i miss you when you don't. you always share such marvelous birds and beauty! thank you! so glad you got to see snowies!!!

Bill said...

Great photos! I'm hoping to meet up with at least one snowy here before the winter is over as there are several in the area.

Mary said...

Wonderful photos. The Herons in the Mangrove are stunning. Thank you so much for sharing. I still have not seen the snowy owl yet. I keep hoping.

Gordon said...

Great set of photos Julie,the Townsend's Solitaire is a new bird to me. Love the Snowy Owls, hope your weather is getting better, please don't send it over here.
All the best Gordon.

Chris Rohrer said...

WOOOOOWWWWW!!! Dreamy that Snowy Owl:)Quite the habitat change from Florida:)

Tinie said...

What a beautiful photos and what you had beautiful birds for the lens. This is pure delight.

Groetjes Tinie

stiefbeen said...

Prachtig wat een geweldige serie en zo mooi.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

I love birds and seeing all these beauties makes me long for spring.Your photos are amazing.

eileeninmd said...

Gorgeous birds and photos. I have to say the Snowy Owl steals the show. Enjoy your week ahead!

John's Island said...

Hi Julie, What an excellent new post! As always, your photos are splendid. I appreciated your description and the difficulties getting these great shots. Gray skies and rain are not unknown here in Seattle … ha ha … so I know exactly what you are talking about. Those owls are just beautiful. The third shot from bottom … snowy owl dozing … wow, I wonder how those birds feel safe enough to doze in the bright light, and especially, relatively, out in the open like that. Amazing. My favorite, and it’s quite difficult to choose one, is the American Oystercatcher. What a stunning bird! Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos! John

Becky L. said...

good photos and I enjoyed them all. Did you get photos of all the frozen falls and lakes, etc in Chicago? Or Florida? Amazing beauty there as well. Glad you had a safe trip!

Kerri Farley said...

Beautiful captures Julie!! I would LOVE to see one of those snowy owls!!!

Marco Luyken said...

Hey Julie!!
Very nice to see your new shots!!
So beautiful all these special birds. Great to see how you've phographed them in nice positions.
Wonderful the herons and pelicans. And what a fantastic shots of that regal Osprey and owl. Shot 6 of that funny duck is really nice. What a funny little head.

Best regards and a big kiss,

Debbie said...

when i saw this post, i knew it would be good...i did not anticipate how amazing it would be!!

the male hoodie is just amazing and the snowy owls my favorite. they are here at the jersey shore but i have yet to see one.

gorgeous ice around the sheltered owl!!

Bob Bushell said...

Love them, beautiful birds Julie.

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Julie,
What a lovely post, even if the weather in Florida was not great. We had bad luck in September as well, a pity because those long nature walks cannot be made in the rain.
Wishing you a great 2014 with many more rare bird species spotted and artfully caught on camera by you.

Daniel LaFrance said...

Sorry to hear that the weather in Florida was... shall we say... lacking. On the plus side you got to capture some Snowy Owls and all your pics are a sight to behold.

Scott (@NEASK) said...

Gorgeous photos as always, Julie. It must have been a real treat for you to be able to see and photograph the Snowy Owls. Very nice shot of the Hooded Merganser, a beautiful bird.

Guy said...

Hi Julie

You have some stunning photos here as always. I am glad you have had the chance to photograph so many snowy owls. I really enjoyed the pelicans.


Tammy said...

Hi Julie, always a delight to view your magnificent photos!!! Sorry to hear the Florida weather didn't treat you too kindly! You still managed incredible captures...I'm very eager to see a Oystercatcher; they have always eluded me! 7 Snowy Owls must have been amazing; they are so beautiful! Thank you for sharing:)

JRandSue said...

Thank you for posting these wonderful images,you've cheered me up.
It's always a treat to view your outstanding work.

Kathie Brown said...

Well, you have certainly got around and seen so many wonderful birds! the snowies are amazing! Nice post!

Anonymous said...

Super pictures! Warm Greetings from the cold Warsaw. Have a look at the new photo album.

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

A nice post with some great photos.

Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

Ela said...

Wonderful birds !

John's Island said...

Hi Julie, I just had to post another comment here to thank you for your kind words on my blog today. Seriously, your comments always leave me smiling and make my day. You are so kind. Thank you so much for the kind words, for following my blog, and for commenting when time permits. You do such a wonderful job with Nature's Splendor that it really means a lot to me when you comment. Very best regards, John

Noushka said...

Hi Julie!
What a fantastic post!
Each photo is perfectly in focus and show interesting subjects!
I have yet t see Mergansers!
That was lucky to spot the Snowy owl!
Keep well!

stardust said...

Breathtaking photos of the lovely birds…so clear, bright and crisp as always, Julie. I like all the birds in the post but especially the Snow Owls which looks beautiful and mysterious at the same time. I'd like to see them in person.