Sunday, April 21, 2013

Owls and Waterfowl

We walked this morning, my sister and I, into a stiff wind on the marsh trail.  Temps held steady in the low 40s and the skies were overcast with occasional snow flurries.  I could easily have stayed in to sew, but it's been a long winter and sometimes you just have to get out there.

Spring has been slow to arrive in Wisconsin, yet there are many signs of new life (as you will see below).

So, clad in long-johns and corduroy, scarves, battery-heated gloves, and hats with faux-fur trimmed ear flaps, we set off along the path. 

The geese ultimately yielded to our advance, but not without honking in protest as they lifted off.  We talked about goose versus human encounters of the too-close kind as they flew away.  You don't want to be on the receiving end of a wing-and-bill lashing.

It was snowing when we stopped near the river.  This is such a peaceful spot, even on a blustery day.

I decided to test the zoom on my new camera by training it on this mallard on the far edge of the water (it was just above and slightly right of dead center in the previous photo).

We heard the haunting bugle of sandhill cranes.  That's a sound we never heard growing up, but due to conservation efforts, cranes have made a dramatic comeback in recent decades.

A cover of Coot (black with white bills) and one Lesser Scaup among them.

But the best was saved for last.  As we walked back to the parking lot, a man whose Irish Setter we were admiring asked if we'd seen the two baby owls that had branched.  We hadn't walked that route, so he redirected us to where they were located and we went back to check it out.

Can you see them? They blended very well into their surroundings.

Owlets exit the nest at about six weeks, but they can't fly yet for about another week after that.  

In the meantime, they will make their way out of the nest and onto a nearby branch.  Their nest was in a crotch of this tree a few yards away.

These are Great Horned Owl owlets.  Notice the one on the left is facing the opposite direction, but his head is swiveled almost completely around to look over his back.  They are still very downy in places.
Very keen observers...and they had many observers themselves.

Funny how in spring we look for new growth in our flower beds and things blooming from the ground.  Birds remind us to look up. 

What an awesome sight!


Sarah Craig said...

Oh, those owls are amazing! How big were they?

Empty Closet Quilting said...

How great to see those young owls! I'll be looking up tomorrow.

Vicki @ DottyJane said...

I didn't know that about owls...interesting! Spring has to come sometime, doesn't it?

SueWis said...

Braving the elements was so worth seeing those owls! Wow! Had no idea they nested so early.

Mina said...

Love your owlet pics!

Sara said...

The owlets look like little soldiers standing guard of that tree:) Very interesting about their nature.

Battery operated gloves eh?! lol

Karen said...

Oh so amazing! Just so great to see those :)

Kevin the Quilter said...

Great photos! I love a walk such as this one, and what a treat to see some owlets! Beautiful!

Shay said...

Love every single one of these pictures but especially the baby owls (I haven't seen any before)

Looking at your pictures -Im seeing Spring isn't far off. It got cold and dreary here this past week- looks like our autumn has finally arrived.

Michelle said...

Those owls are simply magnificent!

Elizabeth said...

I didn't realize that owls came out during the day. What an amazing thing to see!

You're very brave for going out if the walk required battery operated gloves. I probably would have just stayed in. Good for you and thanks for sharing.

xo -E


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