Here you will meet the owls from my photo exhibition that took place November 7 and 8, 2014.
There are two ways to look at the gallery:
1. Scroll down through the photos and read the stories that go with them.
2. Click on any image to begin a slide show of the images. They show up nicely in this format.
Thanks for stopping by!
Great Gray Owl Morning
Codrington, March 2014. One morning during March Break this year I was sitting around drinking coffee, waking up slowly, when I heard crows cawing wildly outside my house. This can often be a sign that a hawk or owl is nearby, so I rushed out the front door to see what was going on. A Great Gray Owl swooped down across my driveway, with a murder of crows in hot pursuit. It then continued on down the road to sit on a post in a nearby field, and the crows eventually gave up on it. I plunked myself down in a snowbank and watched it as it went about its morning routines- preening, stretching and dozing off. This owl lived on my street for about 2 months last winter. It must have found an abundant food source to have hung around for so long. How did I ever get so lucky?
Into the Light
Snowy Owl, Amherst Island, March, 2014. I decided at the last minute to take a trip out to Amherst Island in late March this year, to try to find snowy owls. I couldn't stay home knowing that the snowies were on the move and may only be in our area a few more days before they returned to their breeding grounds in the arctic. Found this one sitting in the late afternoon sun, on a chunk of heaved- up ice on the lake. I love the sharp talons and the outstretched wings in this photo. Snowy owls never cease to amaze me with their combination of beauty and deadly power.
Barred Owl, Presqu'ile Park, October 2013. Some days I head out and I just have a feeling. Sure enough, as I was heading down the Jobes Woods Trail last October, this beauty was sitting right beside the boardwalk, only 7 feet up a tree. I would have had to walk right under her if I had decided to carry on down the trail. I stopped and sat down, and had a good half hour with her. I just sat where I was, hoping nobody else would come along. Nobody did. Barred Owls love to live in places like Jobes Woods, with a mixture of old growth forest, regenerating forests, and swampy areas. Listen for them hooting “Who Cooks for You? Who Cooks for You All?”
Look Closely- It's a Baby Owl!
Barred Owlet, Codrington, June 2014. This spring we heard a very vocal pair of Barred Owls in the woods near my house. Listening to them call and hoot back and forth to each other was quite comical. Judging by how in love they were, I had a pretty good idea they were going to raise a family. One day I was walking and spotted the mother’s tail feathers sticking out of the top of an old tree snag, lit up by the late afternoon sun. I couldn’t believe it! The nest! I did not disturb her when she was brooding and had little babies. When I guessed that the babies would be older I went and hid in the woods a distance back from the nest with my long lens on my camera. I sat under a camouflage blanket with my camera set up on the tripod peeking out of the little blind I had made for myself. I sat so still for so long that I thought I might grow fungus. A blue jay flew into the tree above me and pooped on my head. When this little owlet finally peeked its head out of the nest it was the best thing ever. Worth it.
Barred Owlets, Codrington, June, 2014. Barred Owlets leave the nest before they can fly. They just kind of jump out, then use their sharp beaks and talons to crawl back up high in a tree to safety. At this point they are called “branchers.” These two little owlets stuck together most of the time, very high up in the trees. My camera was completely vertical in the tripod for this shot. It would take the owlets another couple of weeks to learn to fly. They continued to be fed by their parents. In the fall, they disperse to their own territories. Good luck, little owls.
Amherst Island, February, 2014. This is one of my favourite photos, as it shows the feather details of the owl, the texture of the tree bark, and how the owl blends in so beautifully with its environment. This grey February day was memorable for many reasons. The Amherst Island ferry had to break through thick chunks of ice for the entire journey to the island. Once we got to the island, we found the kilometre long path to Owl Woods had drifted in with waist deep snow. Having come all that way, we walked it anyway, but fell countless times into the snow. Sometimes we got stuck, and it was nearly impossible to get back up again. I found this owl quite by chance, and it was very cooperative for its photo shoot. This day taught me there is nothing that a cup of hot tea and a couple of Advil can’t fix.
Great Gray Owl Stare
Rockcliffe Park, Ottawa, February, 2013. My first Great Gray Owl - and I saw it with both my kids! Great Grays are not fazed by humans, and the three owls we saw that day watched us just as much as we were watching them. I vaguely recall it being extremely cold and windy that day, but what I do remember vividly was how enthralled I was by the intense stares and lemon yellow eyes. Seeing a Great Gray is pretty special, as they normally live far north of here. We met a man at the park who had driven up to Ottawa for the day all the way from Maryland, just for the chance to see these owls. The scientific name for the Great Gray Owl is strix nebulosa, which means roughly “owl with feathers like the clouds” Their feather patterns allow them to blend in miraculously with their surroundings.
Great Gray Owl and a Glorious Sunset
Codrington, April, 2014. This is one of the last times I saw the mysterious Great Gray Owl that lived on my street last winter. I was walking my dog at the end of the day. Though I only saw the owl a handful of times, I always took my camera with me when I walked the dog, just in case. As I headed out for the walk, I scanned the trees and field where it liked to hunt, with no luck. Half an hour later, as I was walking west back towards my house, there was the owl, sitting up in a tree silhouetted against a gorgeous sunset, getting ready for the evening hunt. Great Grey Owls are crepuscular, which means they generally hunt at twilight.
Snowy Owl, Wellington, ON, January, 2014. The winter of 2013-14 was exceptional, with hundreds of Snowy Owls irrupting south from their Arctic breeding grounds. This most likely has to do with population fluctuations in their food source in the north- lemmings. We saw this owl hunt and catch a mouse in a farmyard. Then the owl flew up to the top of the red barn roof right in front of us, giving us multiple shots of its beautiful wings. I love the contrast between the white owl and the snowy red roof. Canadian winter at its best.
Eye to Eye
Presqu'ile Park, October 29, 2014. This image was taken too recently to be part of my exhibition, but it's one of my favourites, so I added it here! I came upon this Barred Owl as I was walking in an open field dotted with small trees. When I spotted it, I was virtually right on top of it. I had to back up to get a photo. It watched me closely,with its dark eyes but did not fly away. What a treat it was being eye to eye with this beautiful creature on a late October day. Thank you for visiting! For a slide show of the exhibition on black, click any image above.