Nonetheless, we caught the 130pm ferry over to the island along with two of my friends, Heather and Patrick, and reached 'owl woods' quickly. Highlights on the way to the woods were numerous Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks and a couple Northern Harriers as well as the Northern Shrike shown in the pictures below. This is one of my favourite birds. They are called butcher birds for a reason, as one of our truly predatory songbirds, they often capture and kill prey such as mice, voles and small birds, after which they will often look for a small thorn to impale the prey on while they feed.
Below is a shot of a light phase Rough-legged Hawk dining on some small rodent. It was right beside the road and gave great views and photo opportunities!
We also saw this beautiful adult Bald Eagle fly by over head.
We scoured owl woods for an hour and a half and had a brief glimpse of one Long-eared Owl as it flew away. Unfortunately, none of the other small owls made an appearance. If they were there, they were likely very well hidden!
Not to be deterred, we made our way back to the cars to see if we could see a Snowy Owl or possibly even a Short-eared Owl. On the walk out, we spotted our first Snowy! This was followed quickly by another...and another and many more!
|Snowy Owl (male)|
|Snowy Owl -in flight|
We decided to make one more pass around the east end of the island on the way back to the 6pm ferry, and saw many more Snowy Owls, bringing out total for the day to 15 individuals! This is the most that I have ever seen in one day and there were almost certainly as many more that went unobserved.
|Heather and Patrick looking at another Short-eared Owl that I drove right past!|
|Sunset on Amherst Island|
|Snowy Owl -ghostly in the fading light|
Overall, a very fun day out, and I can hardly wait until my next day on the owl island.