During a June driving trip to Minnesota I spent much of my time trying to find Great Gray Owls and Black Backed Woodpeckers. Any other birds and mammals would be good too but those two were my most prized goals. I spent several days in an area where great grays have been known to breed. I have many winter Great Gray Owl photographs and the birds on breeding territory would make a more complete story for me.
I drove the area numerous times each day from 6 am to dark. I saw lots of snowshoe hares, deer, and even a lynx. The morning chorus was full and varied. An Olive-sided Flycatcher and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were found.
Just as it was getting dark one evening I saw a Great Gray Owl. It flew back and forth over the road several times hunting. The next morning I was out hoping to find it again. As I drove along I found it perched on a dead tree stub sticking out from a bank not 3 feet from the ground. I opened the passenger window and photographed it while sitting in the driver’s seat. The bird stayed for about 5 minutes and then flew to another perch. I quietly got out of the car and using it to block most of my body photographed the owl as it hunted and flew from perch to perch and back. It stayed in the area for about 1 1/2 hours and then flew off into the bog.
I had lots of time to changes lenses, get vertical and horizontal images and in different light and varied perches.
This winter I have reorganized all my external hard drives and I found sets of images that may never be seen unless I do the work to get them out there.
We are so used to seeing images of Great Gray Owls in winter that some of these will look very foreign. That is one of the things I love about them! I will be posting two blogs to cover my favourites.
The first series is of the owl on a single perch using different lenses and combinations.
This one was taken with my 7D and my 70-200 @ 200mm and includes the habitat. Even though the bird is small in the frame there is value in having this type of image as part of the story. This image is uncropped.
This one was taken with the 7D and the 500 mm lens. This was cropped a bit from the left side for composition.
The 7D with the 500 mm plus the 1.4 converter was used for this capture. This was cropped a small amount from the
left side only.
This one was captured with the same setup as the last one. It was cropped a small amount from the top and left side.
Having the time as the owl was undisturbed by my presence and continued to hunt I took advantage of being able to capture as much variety as possible.
The above images are all the property of the photographer and may not be used in any way without the written consent of
Eleanor Kee Wellman.