My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Muskegon, December 21st, It is easier if you cheat

Sorry for another post from Muskegon so soon again, since I have plenty of photos from around home to share. However, a few things happened this past weekend that I want to post about while the day is still fresh in my memory.

To begin with, it was a rather slow day as far as birds to photograph. It hasn’t been very cold here compared to our average temperatures or even the way that November was. But, most of the water at the Muskegon wastewater treatment facility has frozen over, meaning most of the ducks and geese, other than a few mallards, have left for down south. With the waterfowl gone, most of the raptors have moved on as well. I did see a few bald eagles and hawks, there’ll be photos later, but really, the only subjects that I saw worth photographing were the snowy owls.

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

That image was shot about half-way through my day, before I started cheating, which I’ll get to later.

I learned a great many things this day, about snowy owls, photography, editing photos, what other people will do for a great photo, and what I’ll do for a good photo, but I’ll get to those things as I go.

The day began cold, cloudy, hazy, with a strong enough wind to make it feel much colder than it was, which was about the freezing point for most of the day. I didn’t even make it all the way past the entrance drive to the wastewater facility before I spotted the first of five snowy owls for the day. I started out using the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) by itself for this photo.

Snowy owl, 500 mm, not cropped

Snowy owl, 500 mm, not cropped

I wasn’t that impressed by the position of the owl or the conditions, so it was playtime. I added the 1.4 X tele-converter to the Beast, meaning that I had to manually focus for this one.

Snowy owl, 700 mm, not cropped

Snowy owl, 700 mm, not cropped

Here’s the cropped version.

Snowy owl, 700 mm, cropped

Snowy owl, 700 mm, cropped

Not too shabby given the poor light at the time.

I set-up my second camera body with the 300 mm prime lens, the 1.4 X extender, and for shooting action photos, primarily birds in flight. I tested all the camera and lens settings out on a pair of common mergansers that I spooked by accident.

Common mergansers taking flight

Common mergansers taking flight

A little farther along the road, I spotted my second snowy owl of the day, but it wasn’t in the mood to have its photo taken.

Snowy owl number two

Snowy owl number two

I tried out my action set-up again on a rough-legged hawk, first, as it landed….

Rough-legged hawk landing

Rough-legged hawk landing

…switched to the Beast while it was perched….

Rough-legged hawk

Rough-legged hawk

…and managed to grab the action set-up as the hawk took flight.

Rough-legged hawk taking flight

Rough-legged hawk taking flight

Some light sure would have helped those, or any of my early action photo attempts.

Pigeons (Rock doves) taking flight

Pigeons (Rock doves) taking flight

The white pigeon tried to fool me into thinking it was a snowy owl, but I didn’t fall for it. 😉

Pigeons (rock doves)

Pigeons (rock doves)

Not far from there, I found my third snowy owl of the day, this one was willing to pose for a few photos.

Snowy owl looking right

Snowy owl looking right

Snowy owl looking left

Snowy owl looking left

ough-legged hawk

Snowy owl looking straight at me

And, here’s the cropped version of the image above.

Snowy owl looking straight at me, cropped

Snowy owl looking straight at me, cropped

The chance one takes getting so close to birds is that if they decide to fly away…

Snowy owl taking flight

Snowy owl taking flight

…you only get parts of the bird in the image.

Snowy owl feet

Snowy owl feet

That’s for any readers that have a snowy owl foot fetish. 😉

The owl didn’t go far…

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

…I learned that snowy owls like my Subaru Forester.

Snowy owl perched almost over my Subaru

Snowy owl perched almost over my Subaru

I had to shoot a few more photos of the owl as I walked back to my car.

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

From there, I hit all the typical birding hotspots around the wastewater facility proper, and the surrounding areas within the Muskegon State Game Area, which are considered part of the wastewater facility as they are under the control of Muskegon County, even though it is state land. I saw a pair of bald eagles on the ice of one of the lagoons, but well out of camera range. There were dozens of crows and hundreds of gulls, but little else to see. It may have been the slowest day of birding that I’ve ever had there.

I had planned to also go to the Muskegon Lake channel to look for late season migrating waterfowl, but looking towards that direction, I could see that the clouds were even thicker there, and very few waterfowl have shown up there according to eBird reports.

Instead, I drove back to the man-made hill that overlooks the grassy cells to hang out for a while and see if anything showed up. I’ve had good luck doing that in the past, and hoped that it worked again. I could see the first owl from when I arrived in the morning was still there in the grassy cells, and as I waited, I noticed that the owl hunted in a pattern of sorts.

The owl would perch on one of the pipes…

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

…or “ridges” that delineate each of the grassy cells…

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

…in a location where it could look down into two of the cells at a time. It would stay in each location for 15 to 30 minutes, and if it didn’t see anything, ….

Snowy owl taking off

Snowy owl taking off

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

…it would zig-zag across one cell to a spot where it could see down into the next two cells.

Watching the owl working its way across the grassy cells one pair at a time, I wondered if I could get in position ahead of the owl without it changing its pattern. The answer is obvious now, from the photos above, it was working well enough. In the photo above, you can see some of the pipes and other objects that the owl was using as perches in the background.

So, once the owl had moved, I would move to a point as close as I dared to get to the next place that I thought that the owl would land the next time that it moved.

Apparently, snowy owls hunt in a pattern that one can use to get into a better position to get good photos, one of many things I learned this day. The next thing that I learned is that snowy owls, at least the one I was watching, have a low success rate while they are hunting.

I was fine tuning how I was positioning myself anticipating the owls moves as the day went on. At one point, the owl took off, I didn’t save any of those photos, but the owl dove down into a cell, and didn’t come flying out the other side as I expected, so I went to see why…

Snowy owl trying to dig up a rodent

Snowy owl trying to dig up a rodent

Snowy owl trying to dig up a rodent

Snowy owl trying to dig up a rodent

Snowy owl trying to dig up a rodent

Snowy owl trying to dig up a rodent

Snowy owl trying to dig up a rodent

Snowy owl trying to dig up a rodent

…the owl kept digging for whatever it had missed, for so long that I switched over to shoot video for this.

If I’d have been smart, I would have kept the camera rolling, for the owl took off a few seconds later, which would have been great, until I lost the focus since I have to focus manually to shoot video.

But, I had another piece to the puzzle that I was putting together to get good action shots of the owl. It wasn’t long before the owl took off and tried for another rodent.

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

I was shooting in high-speed burst mode, and had already learned that shooting in RAW filled the buffer of the 60D much quicker than shooting jpeg. So, I would shoot a burst when the owl was at its closest to me, then stop. Bad move, because I missed the owl pouncing.

Snowy owl trying for a kill

Snowy owl trying for a kill

That was a split second after the owl had hit the ground. Once again, it had missed whatever it had been after.

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

It seemed to be having trouble figuring out how to get out of the reeds…

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

…until it remembered that it was a bird and could just fly out.

Snowy owl taking off

Snowy owl taking off

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

I was quite pleased with the way that my plan was working, I was getting fair shots of the owl both as it was flying, and as it was perched.

I was shooting in RAW so that I could edit the photos I was shooting, but up to this point, none of the photos have been edited other than being cropped. Being nearly all white, getting the exposure correct on the snowy owls can be tricky, especially as the background changes behind the owls as they fly. I wasn’t completely happy with the white balance either, snowy owls aren’t blue…

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

…but if I changed the white balance of my camera from cloudy to shade, then the owl and especially the background came out orange.

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

So once I was home, I played with the editing features of the Canon software that came with the camera for this one, and I got the white balance as close as I could come. In some ways I prefer the warmer colors of the “orange” owl, but this next one is as close to neutral, and real life, as I could get.

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

This was my first real attempt at any type of editing other than cropping, and I found out that using the Canon software is very tedious, but worth the effort at times to change an image from just a so-so one into something better.

Who would have thought that I’d be tweaking the white balance or exposure of my images as I have done with some of the rest of the photos from the day?

It’s becoming clearer to me all the time that no matter how one sets up a camera, there are limitations to how well the images will look as they come out of the camera. It was late summer when I lamented that I couldn’t adjust the exposure compensation in one-quarter of a stop increments, as one-third of a stop sometimes seemed to be too much at times. Software adjustments allow me to make those small exposure adjustments that can’t be done by the camera. Or, to fine tune the white balance when the weather on a particular day doesn’t match up exactly with the camera settings available to use.

Maybe it’s because my skills as a photographer are improving that I’ve come to realize the limitations of what a digital camera can record as matched against what my eye sees as I press the shutter release. A year ago, I would have said that the editing that I’ve done to some of the following photos was cheating, now, I see it as overcoming the limitations of my gear, allowing me to capture what I saw.

But, there’s almost cheating by editing photos, and then there’s real cheating.

I had been following the one snowy owl around for a couple of hours, and was getting good at positioning myself to get some good photos. One other vehicle had stopped by at one point, the occupants shot a few photos then left the owl to me again. I was quite pleased with myself for having learned how the owl hunted, being able to predict the best position to get to ahead of the owl, and the photos that I was shooting. I did wish that there had been more light so I could have shot at a faster shutter speed so that the images would have been sharper…

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

Snowy owl taking flight

Snowy owl taking flight

Snowy owl taking flight

Snowy owl taking flight

…but overall, I thought that things were going well. All that was about to change.

Snowy owl and photographer

Snowy owl and photographer

Some of you may remember the first time that I posted about the snowy owls, and the guy with the BIG LENS that was a real jerk. I was afraid that I would be seeing a rerun of that episode, but in some ways, this day was worse. This guy with the BIG LENS set-up his gear….

Another photographer setting up

Another photographer setting up

…the type of gear that I can only dream of owning, unless I win the lottery. 😉

Since the owl had just moved to another spot to look for food, I looked around, and picked out the next perch that I thought that the owl would use as it continued to hunt in the grassy cells, and positioned myself to wait for the owl to come to me. It all went according to plan, and even the light began to improve, for it wasn’t long before the owl took off, and I was able to shoot these.

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

I was really patting myself on the back for having been able to shoot that series of photos, and the owl had even gotten a mouse to eat as you can see. But, I didn’t know that owl and the I had gotten some help from the other photographer.

The owl soon took off from the post, and headed back to where it had come from.

Snowy owl taking flight

Snowy owl taking flight

I thought that it was odd that the owl went back, but I reasoned that it had been successful, and maybe it had seen or heard more mice in the same area as it had captured the first. So, I sat and waited, and it wasn’t long before the owl came back towards me. This time, I had even a better idea of the route the owl would take, and was able to get better photos.

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

The owl had even gotten another mouse, but this time, it had been a white mouse. Wait a minute, something fishy is going on here, there are no white mice in the wild that I know of.

I had been watching the owl intently all of the time, and not paying any attention to what the guy with the BIG LENS was up to. The owl quickly returned to the spot from which it had started the previous two flights, and this time, I watched what the guy with the BIG LENS was up to.

After a few minutes had gone by, I watched him get his camera gear all set, then reach into his Jeep to get something out of it. He walked out into the edge of the grassy cell, held out one arm for the owl to see, then tossed something, a mouse, out for the owl. It didn’t take long for the owl to react, it took off right away.

The guy with the BIG LENS must have had the BIG LENS set to shoot photos of the owl as it took off, and he must have triggered that camera remotely. He used the shorter lens to photograph the owl as it flew.

Even though I had seen the mouse thrown out into the grassy cells for the owl, I couldn’t resist shooting another batch of photos.

It was almost like shooting fish in a barrel, as this time, I was 95% certain of the exact route the owl was going to take. I knew about where the owl was going to rise up above the mound that forms the grassy cell, so I pre-focused on that spot, and caught the owl just as it appeared in my view again.

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

I knew that it would probably drop back down into the second cell, so it was easier to follow the owl in flight.

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

And, I knew almost with certainty where it would land, so I pre-focused on the post with the reflector, and waited for the owl to appear in the viewfinder.

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

Yes, it’s a lot easier to get better photos if you cheat and use bait to get an animal close to you, and to have it do something that you’re prepared for!

I debated whether I would even post those last three series of images, since the owl had been baited by the guy with the BIG LENS. I believe that it is unethical to use bait while photographing nature, and while I wasn’t the one throwing mice out for the owl, I benefited from it, especially in that last series when I knew what was going on.

On the other hand, I had been watching the owl all afternoon, and had positioned myself where I did based on having watched the owl, and getting to know how it behaved as it hunted. There was a high probability that the owl would have landed on the fence post with the reflector the next time that it had moved, even if the guy with the BIG LENS hadn’t come along to toss mice out to the owl. But, that would have been a one time deal, not something that the owl repeated several times for me to learn its exact flight path in order to be prepared for when the owl took that flight.

In case you’re wondering the guy with the BIG LENS got some fantastic photos and a video of the owl, I know that because a few of them have been posted on the web site of the Muskegon County Nature Club, so I know who the guy with the BIG LENS is.

I decided that I would use those photos that I shot for several reasons. One, they are a record of what I saw that day, including the guy baiting the owl. Two, I had invested most of a day in learning how to get close to the owl as it hunted, it wasn’t my fault that some one showed up to bait the owl just as the light got better. I shot over 400 images of the owl and many of them are close to being as good as the last three series of photos from when the owl was being baited. The photos from earlier in the day would have been as good or better than those that I shot as the owl was being baited if the light had been as good earlier. And, like I said, I chose where to position myself based on having learned the owl’s habits, not on the fact that some one started tossing mice out to the owl.

Still, it is an ethical issue that I’m still having trouble coming to grips with. At the time, I was so disgusted with myself, that I went over to shoot this crummy shot of two bald eagles that I had been keeping an eye on as I was watching the owl as a way of atoning for the sin of having photographed the owl that had been baited.

Adult bald eagles

Adult bald eagles

Well, that all took place a week ago. I haven’t had much time to work on this post, as I was either working long hours the first three days of the week, or out walking trying to get a few good photos despite the constant gloomy weather that’s been in place here. I still haven’t come to terms with having photographed the owl even though I knew some one else was feeding it, I may not ever. But, I’ll have more about that in future posts, right now, it’s time to stick a fork in this one, as it’s done.

That this is it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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35 responses

  1. LOVE the snowies! Thanks for sharing! Missed your posts, good to be back.

    December 27, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    • Thank you Sheila!

      December 28, 2014 at 8:28 pm

  2. I don’t think you should flail yourself over taking pics of the owl being baited. 🙂 As you said, you spent a good long time watching its behaviour so that you’d know where to wait. You couldn’t help that Big Lens man turned up.And anyway, I thought the pre-baiting pics were just as good! I must admit that when you wrote about the snowy owl foot fetish, I had actually been thinking something similar and laughed. I think Snowy Owls have become my favourite bird for the moment. It’s just that I can’t get over the fact that you can see an owl during daylight hours. Seeing an owl is so rare here. We have frogmouths which look like owls and hunt at night but they are really nightjars. And not only is it amazing to me that you can observe an owl in the daytime, it’s such a beautiful one!

    This post had a lot of “wow” factor for me. With regards to editing software, I think that making a few slight changes such as with brightness, contrast and colour balance to help show what it actually looked like to you when you saw it, is not really cheating when your gear is limited. Certainly many of the people with very expensive equipment don’t hesitate to use it anyway! What upsets me a little is when photos are altered to look different than they look in real life, but are sold as “real” life. Such as when a sunset’s colours are completely changed on purpose and don’t look at all like they did in real life. But if it’s done in the name of art and people are aware it has been changed, then it’s ok. I suppose, airbrushing of women’s bodies to look perfect is an example of deceit that can influence people in a very negative way if they believe the model really looks like that.

    We are not encouraged to feed wildlife here for a number of reasons. They become too dependent or tame and lose their natural fear. They can sometimes catch diseases from food fed to them that they wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to in the wild. There are cases of viruses being transmitted to birds in this way. In the case of some of our parrots here people just feed them only sunflower seeds which is not a balanced diet, so they can become sick. Thanks for feeding my snowy owl “fetish”. 😉

    December 27, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    • Thanks Jane, glad that you liked the foot fetish photo!

      Snowy owls normally live above the Arctic Circle, the “land of the midnight sun” where the sun doesn’t set for several months during the summer, so the owls have adapted to hunting during the day. A few migrate south for the winter, and they still prefer to hunt during the day. They also prefer much more open areas than other owls, that prefer to hunt in wooded areas.

      I promise not to go crazy while editing my photos, unless I do it as a joke, and you’ll know if I do.

      December 28, 2014 at 9:19 pm

  3. Whatever means you took to photograph the snowy owl, I appreciated your efforts a lot, what a beautiful bird.

    December 28, 2014 at 4:37 am

    • Thanks Susan! The snowy owls are gorgeous!

      December 28, 2014 at 8:29 pm

  4. Do you think baiting the owl like that guy did is the same as people putting out bird feeders, and taking photos of the birds that come?

    December 28, 2014 at 8:04 am

    • Thanks for the comment and question! No, I don’t think that shooting birds at a feeder is the same as baiting a raptor or owl. The birds at a feeder don’t lose their ability to find seeds or berries elsewhere, owls and raptors do lose their hunting skills it the birds don’t use them. They also lose their fear of humans, some of the mice sold that are used for bait carry diseases, and there are jerks that poison the rodents because they dislike birds of prey.

      December 28, 2014 at 8:34 pm

  5. I think the guy throwing mice to the owls would be like me taking potted wildflowers into the woods and taking photos of them. A large part of the thrill of nature photography for me is finding the things to photograph in the first place, so feeding animals to attract them would take all of the joy out of it. I might as well go shoot photos at a zoo or a botanical garden. I wonder what your fish and game department would think of him feeding the owls.

    Anyhow you got some great photos of snowy owls and there’s a lot to be said for that considering I’ve never even seen one. I was interested in your observations of their hunting habits. I’ve been watching a red tailed hawk hunt cornfields and he always seems to return to the same two or three trees.

    As far as correcting minor exposure problems goes, you’ll find that Lightroom makes it easy. My son got me the version 5 upgrade and now it’s even easier. It’s the only way I’ve found to work around poor lighting but it won’t work miracles. You have to have something there worth fixing to start with!

    Hope you had a good Christmas.

    December 28, 2014 at 9:57 am

    • Thanks Allen! I don’t know why the guy was baiting the owl in the first place. I was doing little to no cropping of my images and I don’t have a lens close to as long as he was using. Of course, I spent 4 hours learning how the owl hunted, he just showed up and started tossing mice out there to bring the owl in close.

      You’re right, red-tailed hawks, along with bald eagles, have favorite perches to hunt from, either that, or both soar without flapping their wings very often. On the other hand, rough-legged hawks seldom soar or perch, the hover over a spot while flapping their wings like kestrels do. Different species of birds of prey have different ways of hunting, it makes it easier for me to ID them at a distance. 😉

      These were my first attempts at editing RAW images, and I’m hooked! I can’t wait for a computer and software that are up to the task!

      My Christmas was pretty good, I hope that yours was a good one as well!

      December 28, 2014 at 8:56 pm

  6. Pretty depressing, baiting owls so you can take their picture. So much for the spiritual aspect of being out in the natural world and trying to capture it’s beauty.

    December 28, 2014 at 10:08 am

    • Yes it is depressing, I’m sure that for him, it was all about getting the shots quickly so that he could put them up for sale.

      December 28, 2014 at 8:41 pm

  7. You managed to get some fantastic shots of the snowy. Loved the changing colors of the background in the first shot, and I applaud your creativity in the shot of the feet. What a fun day that must have been for you.

    December 28, 2014 at 10:43 am

    • Thanks Judy! I was having a great day learning about the snowy owls, until the jerk showed up to ruin it for me.

      December 28, 2014 at 8:42 pm

  8. I agree with your other commenters when they say you shouldn’t feel bad about taking advantage of the Snowy Owl being baited. It’s not something you would ever do and you had already taken some fabulous shots of the owls already and had learnt so much about their behaviour. I worry a lot about raptors and owls being baited like this as this is the way they are poisoned by people who don’t like them.

    December 28, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    • Thanks Clare! You’re right, especially the part about the creeps that poison birds of prey!

      December 28, 2014 at 8:43 pm

  9. Beware of guys with camo lenses!
    Seriously though, no sense bashing yourself about the shots after he showed up. They are lovely and YOU weren’t the one doing the baiting.

    December 28, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    • Thanks Gunta! I’m going to remember the “Beware of guys with camo lenses!” line, it seems to fit many times.

      December 28, 2014 at 8:44 pm

  10. I wouldn’t worry about tinkering with the white balance in particular when you are shooting in RAW. If you were shooting in JPG the camera software would be making all sorts of decisions for you which are then hard to get back to looking right. The whole point of shooting in RAW is that it leaves you to make the decisions and gives you the tools to make it happen.

    Great owl shots.

    December 28, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    • Thanks Tom! I kind of like being able to tweak the white balance in RAW to get it right when the camera can’t. Those were my first real efforts at doing any editing, I was impressed by even the software that came with the camera. I can’t wait to try out Lightroom!

      December 28, 2014 at 8:47 pm

  11. I also agree that you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking advantage of the opportunity provided. You got some amazing shots! That said, I agree with you about baiting raptors and owls. Aside from the pitfalls already mentioned by others, if he buys mice from a pet store, there’s a good chance that the mice have been given supplements or preventative antibiotics that could prove fatal for a bird. I saw that happen with fish a rehabber unwittingly gave to an injured Horned Grebe. The Grebe died after eating just two small feeder fish from a pet store. (In the rehabber’s defense, she was told they would be fine for the Grebe. It wasn’t until she went back to find out why the bird had died that they told her about the medications.)

    Thanks for sharing your shots, your stories, and for being such a conscientious nature photographer!

    December 28, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    • Thanks Jan! I never thought of medications in the mice, but I know that some mice carry diseases that can be fatal to raptors.

      December 28, 2014 at 9:10 pm

  12. Delightful snowies, and as always I appreciate the way you share your learning curve, whether with hardware or software. Don’t get me going on the unethical practices of some photographers baiting wildlife. It is especially rampant among some of the “guided” photographic excursions – where a photographer takes paying clients on shoots where sightings of particular birds are “almost guaranteed.” Some guides will bait an area for many days before a client outing, training birds to a feeding schedule, so that the client is guaranteed a successful shoot. IMO, no respectful public ooo, magazine, or website should publish any photos taken under those circumstances. The photos taken by BIG LENS GUY should be removed from the place they were posted IMO. He should be exposed for violating ethical guidelines, IMO. You might want to write a story about this for your local newspaper. You don’t need to call out the guy by name.

    December 29, 2014 at 1:14 am

    • Thanks Babsje! I think that a campaign against baiting owls is a losing situation, since magazines like Nature and the National Geographic have used images of baited owls on their covers.

      December 29, 2014 at 7:54 pm

      • Yes, they have, and that really is more than disappointing! I think, though, that there must be a way to raise people’s consciousness. To start at a local level maybe, so the next generation of photographers has ethics embedded earlier. It’s an uphill battle, but one I am willing to fight.

        December 29, 2014 at 8:58 pm

  13. Well, that is unfortunate about the “professional” photographer baiting the owls, but I thought your shots were awesome even before the baiter showed up!! I would be so giddy to see/shoot snowy owls, so I really appreciate you giving me a glimpse into a day with them! Such amazing creatures! Thanks, Jerry!!

    December 29, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    • Thanks Amy, and glad to see that you’re back!

      December 29, 2014 at 7:53 pm

      • Thanks, Jerry! I missed all my blogging friends. Life just got away from me during the holiday season. I knew I had to give up something, and blogging was it for a couple of months. Hopefully all will return to “normal” now!!

        December 29, 2014 at 8:10 pm

  14. I love the second shot of the snowy owl–the moody one when s/he is sitting on the concrete thingamajig. As to Muskegon, I happened to be reading a book I got for Christmas– “Fowl Weather” by Bob Tarte (who apparently must live not too far from you). Out of nowhere he starts talking about Muskegon and its birding opportunities and all I can think is–hey, I know this place already thanks to Quiet Solo Pursuits! 🙂

    December 30, 2014 at 9:50 am

    • Thanks Lori! I looked up who Bob Tarte is, and he does live close to where I do, and not far from where I grew up. Small world, isn’t it?

      December 30, 2014 at 10:35 pm

      • Bob Tarte has written a couple of books about rural living. He came to the bookstore where I worked for a book signing – a very cool guy……

        December 31, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      • Maybe I’ll bump into Bob one of these days, maybe on a bike/walking trail somewhere. 😉

        January 1, 2015 at 7:35 am

      • Apparently! 🙂

        January 1, 2015 at 8:53 am

  15. You were there first and captured great photos way before the guy showed up and used mice to bait the Snowy Owl. Do not feel guilty. The Snowy Owl is beautiful! As I type this I hear my Great Horned Owls in the back. Oh how I would love to get their picture. I have seen them at dawn and will need to wake up early one day to take a photo. However as soon as the light comes up… they are gone!
    Speaking of Gone… Welcome Back!
    Happy New Year to You!

    December 31, 2014 at 5:12 am

    • Thank you for the kind words Nancy, and it’s good to see you back!

      December 31, 2014 at 7:26 am