Our fantastic trip was coming to a end, and apart from Northern Hawk Owl, we had seen just about every species we had come all of this way for. It was the end of the week, but we figured we could take things easy and try to get some better looks at a Great Gray Owl and just hope for the best on the Hawk Owl.
We came back to the Sax-Zim Bog on Friday the 25th, once again cruising McDavitt Road for the frequently reported Great Grays. This attempt proved to be a major success, as we found a Great Gray hanging out in a tree about 100 feet from the road. Over the next hour, the three of us stood in silent awe watching this majestic creature fly from perch to perch and make occasional dives at prey. It was a joy to see it simply turning its head, let alone spread its enormous wings and fly around. It’s hard not to take a bevy of pictures of these animals, so please forgive the ensuing onslaught of Great Gray Owl media.
Great Gray Owl – Sax-Zim Bog 1/25/13
Gunnar and Ryan watching the Great Gray
Once daylight was beginning to take a firm hold on the bog, the owl flew to its roost for the day and we took to cruising Sax-Zim for pretty much anything else. We hit a bit of a snag when the trusty Jeep, which had been our bird-mobile for the week, had some clutch problems. We managed a crafty escape thanks to Gunnar’s expert driving skills and our casual adherence to some of the more particular Minnesota driving laws (sorry Minnesota, but the car couldn’t really downshift so . . . ).
Northern Shrike not helping us push the Jeep – Sax-Zim Bog 1/25/13
Despite our day being cut short a bit, the owl trio was still in high spirits. Within a 24 hour period, we had managed to see a Snowy Owl, a Boreal Owl, and a Great Gray Owl, not to mention a handful of winter finches. We took the night off to get to Wisconsin, and then the next day we spent trying to find a Hawk Owl in the northwest corner of the state. Sure enough, our owl luck continued as we stumbled upon a Northern Hawk Owl at a location that had gone cold for almost a week. This guy was another treat to observe, and after spending some quality time watching his antics, we headed back to Gunnar’s family cabin and enjoyed the fruits of victory.
Northern Hawk Owl – Douglas County WI, 1/25/13 – Photo by Ryan Steiner
All in all, it was a wildly successful birding trip, and apart from picking up some lifers and watching some of the coolest owls on the planet, it was a joy to spend some time with some old friends and experience a new place. I would like to give a huge thanks to Gunnar and the Kramer family for their wonderful hospitality and company, and also to Ryan and the Steiner family for keeping my car safe and sound and for driving so far! Awesome trip, and I look forward to the next epic birding adventure . . .