Valentines Day 2014
Our latest blog is long over due as it was from Valentines Day back in February. I wanted to share again the efforts we go to in order to get the shot. My husband, the bird photographer, has been trying to find the elusive snowy owl for several winters. Normally, they do not appear this far south into Illinois, so we kept thinking a road trip to Chicago was in order. As Valentines Day approached, I pondered what to get the great bird photographer. The morning before the big day, I was monitoring an Illinois Birding community post and found someone had spotted a snowy owl in Knox County Illinois. I checked the coordinates provided and found it was only about 40 minutes from our house. I had the perfect Valentines birding gift for my husband, the great snowy owl! I gave it to him on a postcard explaining the gift with the directions. His eyes lit up like a little kid on Christmas. Instead of going out to dinner that evening like normal couples, we packed the cameras in the car and headed to the location. I easily found the crossroads in the middle of farmland where the bird had been sighted but no owl. We drove back and forth for about 30 minutes while the sun was slowly setting. Just as we were about ready to give up, we found it! He was sitting on top of a barn at the very intersection. We had driven by him several times thinking he was a weather vane. By this time it was too dark for pictures, so we abandoned the effort and headed back home. Two days later, on a very, very cold and windy day, we headed back to the area. This time no owl on the barn. We drove around for close to an hour through drifted roads (I am not entirely sure that I didn't drive across a farmers field as nothing was plowed!) Finally, we spotted him sitting on top of a telephone pole. My husband, always the dedicated birder, jumped out of the car and hiked through drifts of snow to take pictures. I on the other hand, rolled down the window of my warm car and started shooting out the window. Every so often, the bird would fly off about a quarter of a mile and land on another pole or barn. We kept following him and stopping to take his picture. Over the course of the next hour, he traveled probably 2 miles as we followed behind to catch his picture each time he stopped. Thank goodness we were on country back roads as we saw very few other cars. It was another moment where I was afraid someone was going to call the police because this crazy guy was running through snowy fields with a giant camera lens. If that doesn't cry terrorist, I am not sure what does! Even though the shots above were taken from the comfort of my car, I am still pretty happy on how they turned out. I never thought I would be spending Valentines weekend chasing an owl through the snow covered countryside but it was well worth it to see this pretty bird.
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eddiesofton May 8, 2014
Just a quick point of clarification. We were actually sitting at the intersection at the end of the first day somewhat bummed that the trek out there was not fruitful. All of a sudden I saw the Snowy Owl fly across in front of us and land a little ways down the crossroad. It wasn't until he flew off and landed on the barn that it hit us it was sitting there when we first got there. Oh, and I must say for the record that this Valentine's gift was totally awesome! ... maybe she'll top it next year with a Puffin trip hehehe