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Anything outdoors!  Tornadoes, eagles, blizzards, or auroras.  If it is in the sky, running through the woods or swimming in the water, I'm there!


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Shots from the Weekend - First Snowy Owl of the Season!

There is always something about returning "home". Regardless of where we end up in life, there is always a tie to where we grew up. The holiday season is a perfect time to visit some of those places which we hold near to our heart for one reason or another. For me that spot is Fergus Falls in Ottertail county Minnesota.

A lone bald eagle watches over the ducks, geese, and swans on the Ottertail River as it winds though town.

The sight of the sky filled with Canada geese was once taken for granted as it was a daily occurrence. Now it is a trigger for a couple of decades of memories.

The river becomes a wild display of waterfowl as the surrounding waters become locked in ice for the next 6 months. The air temp the morning these photos were taken was -13°F.

Upstream from the power plant in town, there in a stretch around the Broken Down Dam site which still has a wild feel to it. Although mostly lined by expensive homes, this area still gives you a feel of what the river used to be like. Thanks to careful management and the near elimination of farm run off, the water is clear and free flowing as it makes a 53 foot fall in elevation over 3 miles.

Speaking of dropping 53 feet in 3 miles, this river makes for some fun kayaking with very little technical paddling needed. The Ottertail is part of the state water trail system and the stretch from the canoe put in near Wall Lake to the East Mount Faith take out is a great moving water paddle. Heads up though...the double drop near the power plant will test your bracing skills! It's fun to sit in the eddy below the drop and watch tubers in the summer become swimmers as they try to hang on.

Saturday the 30th brought on the first couple of snowy owls in the area. I really wish people would quit posting the location of the owls on MOU and some of the other birder lists, Facebook groups, etc. I heard through the grapevine it got to be kind of a zoo in spots. Reminder: get a longer lens, or be happy to view through a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope. You aren't going to make a million dollars off your snowy owl shot SO QUIT STRESSING THE BIRDS! The image above is how most of your sightings are going to be anyhow. If you do get lucky enough to find one alongside the road, stay in your car or stay well back. The birds do not see a car or truck as much of a threat but they sure do when a two legged predator lugging a huge lens and tripod goes running after them into a field.

Here are my two shots. Now onto finding a hawk owl and a great grey this winter up at the in-laws!

Sunday brought the usual rounds. The deer are staring to yard up for the long winter ahead as the evening drive through "the loop" yielded 49 sightings.

And with this nice sunset over the cedars near the river the weekend came to an end. The chances of a significant snowfall are pretty bleak yet. I am dying for some backcountry snowshoeing in the Sawtooth along the north shore soon. Wish we could have saved up some of the 13 feet of snow from last winter!

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