On a beautiful winter's day, John, Doug, and I made plans to meet up with Dan and Susan near Dalrymple to seek out the Northern Hawk Owl that had been discovered during a Christmas Bird Count. As this was one of my two target birds for the past two winters, I was hopeful that we'd get good looks at it, as it's a very special owl. We arrived at the designated meeting place and after waiting for almost an hour, we discovered that Dan was down the road just around the bend waiting for us! Numerous birders had also arrived to see the owl, and we were not disappointed, as it was seen perched in the top of a tree, being harassed by either Ravens or Crows. I include this photo of a blob as a record shot, as this was as close as it got to us, unfortunately, but nonetheless I performed my Happy Dance like an idiot in front of total strangers, as this was a Lifer for me, while John and Doug cringed yet again at my behaviour:
From there, several of us hooked up to check out the surrounding area for other birds, including Dan, Susan, Dan's son Dave, Bob from Orillia, and Eleanor from Bala. The winter landscapes were worth the drive, as it was a beautiful morning:
We were amazed by the sight of a Northern Shrike in a tree covered in frost against a backdrop of a deep blue sky:
It was picking at the tree and we watched as the snow would drift down:
We continued on to Avery Point Road for some good feeder birds, as well as excellent views of the frozen lake:
The trees on the far shore were also frosted over, just beautiful!
Dan, Susan, Doug, and John check out the feeders...
...for some Common Redpolls and American Goldfinch:
The owners had done a first-rate job of attaching assorted evergreen boughs and pieces of birch to their feeders, something I'm going to try with mine, as they'll provide some shelter for the birds as they take turns at the trough!
From there, Bob and Eleanor parted company with us, so Dan et al and the City Folk headed back to the location of the Hawk Owl, but it was further into the woods, so we left for Kirkfield for lunch. On our way there, we saw a Rough-legged Hawk do a few laps around the fields...
...it eventually dive-bombed this poor Red-tailed Hawk that was minding its own business, look for it in the tree at the bottom of the photo:
...the Red-tailed Hawk takes to the air next:
We calmed ourselves down from the raptor excitement over an excellent lunch in Kirkfield, as we warmed ourselves up with plenty of hot food, followed by some of my baking to keep the dental profession occupied.
On our way out of town, Dan showed us dozens of Snow Buntings for the day, lined up on the wires:
Corsons Road was our final stop with Dan, Susan, and Dave, as we tried for Gray Jays, to no avail, despite Dan's best pishing efforts better him than me, that's for sure!:
There was more winter scenery to make up for the lack of birds, though:
Doug, Dave, Dan, Susan, and John humour me as I take the mandatory group shot for the blog before parting company:
So John, Doug, and I made one last ditch effort to see if the Northern Hawk Owl was perhaps out in the open before heading home, and as we drove along the road, there it was, right out in the open on a wire!! Once again John and Doug's hearing was affected by my screams, but I simmered down enough to take just a few photos:
...dealing with an itch:
Jean and Ron arrived, and shortly thereafter, we all watched in awe (as well as horror, as this was a fairly busy stretch of road) as the Hawk Owl suddenly dropped down to the ground quite close to the road, as if it had seen something to eat, but it took off again with nothing in its talons:
It landed in a tree on the north side of the road, and we all collectively heaved a sigh of relief as it was now out of danger from traffic, as these diurnal owls from the north have no concept of cars and frequently meet their demise by being struck:
It took to the sky once again, and I only include these flight shots for my records, as it was amazing to watch:
...look at the little feet!! although if you're a rodent and they're coming straight for you, I suppose they're not so tiny, right??
And so ended our day!
Many thanks go out to Dan, Susan, and Dave for their hospitality yet again, and I hope they have since enjoyed similar close-up views of this beautiful owl.