Monday, February 5, 2018

Out of the Blue

 A rare winter trip turned into a special event! Catherine B. and I ventured down the shore to see what might be hanging around. Like any birding trip, anticipation hangs in the air. Sometimes that feeling surpasses expectations.
 Such was the moment when this Short-eared Owl blew in as we crossed the barrens. First look told me it was an owl. Wow! Catherine hit the brakes, and I jumped out of the car. I had no idea what the settings on my camera were. I just began shooting and adjusting the settings randomly as I fired, in the hope I would hit a good spot.
 This great Short-eared Owl was not bothered by us and continued to hunt for at least two minutes. I never thought it would stay that long and was afraid to take my camera off of it. What a sight!
 Time stood still as we gawked! Sure enough, when I took my camera down to check the settings, the bird disappeared.
 Fully charged by this experience, we continued to search the roadsides and sky as we continued along the barrens.
 Then, another shock! There sitting in a distant tree was a stocky, small bird. Not a familiar frame by any means. Catherine backed up as I raised my binoculars. There lifting off a branch was a Northern Saw-whit Owl! I could hardly believe my eyes.
 I quickly got out to try to follow its flight path. With no luck and reluctance after a good scouring of the area, we slowly moved on. How could this be? We only saw two birds on the barrens, and they were two "10's."  Our day was made in just 15 minutes!
 While the day could not be considered "birdy" by any means, we did see a number of good birds. Sea birds were hard to come by. It was Cappahayden and Trepassey fish plant area that yielded the most. There we saw a Red-throated Loon, several Common Loons, a Red-necked Grebe, 1 probable murre and the grebe pictured here.
 I am leaning toward a Horned Grebe for an ID. This has not been confirmed yet. Getting pictures was difficult due to the distance, wind and light. Sadly, these are the best I could do.
In St. Vincent's I was surprised to see this immature Black-legged Kittiwake. I was really challenged by the elements to get this shot. Point La Haye hosted about 20 Snow Buntings.  These are not all the birds we saw during the day, but they do constitute some of the more memorable ones.

What a great day birding, and I will never travel the barrens again without thinking of our owl strike there.

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