As always, click the photo to enlargeI sorely needed a field foray yesterday. However, the weather was not overly alluring. Temperatures were in the low teens when I set out, skies were gray, and a stiff wind blew from the north. Seemingly not great conditions for photography. Fortunately for me, photography is only part of the equation. I am just as happy watching and observing.
I first visited the huge dam at Alum Creek Reservoir in Delaware County, Ohio - not far from home. I was there to pay a visit to the magnificent Snowy Owl that has been there all winter, to the delight of thousands - no exaggeration - of people who have seen it.
Like people, Snowy Owls have distinct personalities and I have seen ones that won't tolerate anyone near them. Others, like this girl, seemingly could care less about people. This one has chosen by far the busiest locale in this sprawling state park to call its winter home. Scores of people walk, run, cross-country ski and bird here, every day, in close proximity to the owl. There is even a busy remote-controlled airplane airfield here! It cares not a whit. And food must be abundant. I personally am quite glad it chose this spot, as so many people have gotten to see this majestic Arctic bird firsthand, the vast majority for the first time. Including many kids. I'd bet the Alum owl might have created more than a few birders, and future biologists.
Anyway, when I arrived the owl was not evident, but I quickly saw a largish flock of Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, and Snow Buntings swirling about the top of the dam's long grassy slope. I made the ascent, splayed my tripod out to ground level, lay behind the rig, and let the birds come to me. Soon, like gulls on the beach, the birds were close at hand and at times all around me. After a bit, I sidled over to look down the hill, and there was the Snowy Owl, part way down the hill and looking supreme in a blanket of powdery snow.