Great Horned Owl and Osprey Nest Updates

Last Thursday I was able to revisit the great horned owl nest that I photographed a few weeks earlier.  The baby had grown quite a bit in those 3 weeks for sure.  The weather was nice, but the sun was on the other side of the tree when I arrived because I needed to go in the morning.  I still didn’t get to see the mother though.  I even walked the trails around the nest to look for her roosting somewhere nearby, but only found a multitude of other birds instead. 

So the little guy that the locals call “owlie” was very quiet when I arrived around 10:30 or so.  He slept for about an hour and a half, and then woke up and started moving around.  Making all kinds of faces, cocking his head back and forth with some attitude, making funny eye expressions, etc.  It was neat to watch.  Below is my favorite photo from the day.  Click the photo to see the whole gallery.

After visiting the great horned owl nest, I ventured over to the osprey nest I had been to the week before. I think the female must have been incubating, because she never left the nest. The male was flying around gathering soggy branches and weeds for the nest, but the female never left it. So she’ll probably be there for quite some time now. Below is my favorite photo of the osprey nest from that day. Again, click the image to view the whole gallery.

I’ll keep updating you with photos as time progresses with each of these nests. If you want to stay up to date with these, and with my blog in general, look for the subscribe button on the right hand column of this blog.


Strange Days

So last week I took lots of pictures, and I have some to show you now that I’ve processed them all.  Quite a few odd things happened while I was out shooting last week though, and so I thought I’d write a blog about those oddities. 
 First off, the day before I went shooting last week, was a full moon.  (Que up Twilight Zone music.)
So I started out on April Fools Day early in the morning, before the sun, to go setup at a nearby forest preserve to catch the spring pelican migration.  The news had a story on this lake where pelicans gathered by the hundreds, which I already knew about through the birding community.  Well, tons of people showed up that morning because of the news story, and NO PELICANS.  However, I did get to see and photograph Sandhill Cranes up close! 
So next I continued on to try to find an Osprey nest at another forest preserve. I got lost on the way there, more than once, but eventually I found the preserve, and found the nest. Thanks to one of my camera store customers, Gordon, for the tip on where to find this nest. I was very excited about this because I’ve always wanted to see an osprey and never have. I got some nice pictures of them, and made a little video too.
Then I proceeded to yet another forest preserve, where I was photographing Great Blue Herons nesting. At this location, I saw the weirdest thing. I saw a goose, that thought he was Captain Jack Sparrow, trying to sail the Black Pearl upside down. It was hilarious!!! Check out this picture!
So that was last week, and this week was even more strange. This week I stopped by a preserve near work on Monday because I was in the area early. As I was walking, I noticed in the corner of my eye, a squirrel sitting motionless in a tree. Not so unusual, except that after taking numerous shots, and moving around to get different angles, I realized he still hadn’t moved. Then I saw why. The poor little guy had been attacked by something, and had talon marks and fur torn away. He was traumatized.
So I continued walking, and then noticed a tiny little faerie hole at the base of a tree. I wanted to photograph it, but it was obscured by some leaves. I walked over to move the leaves out of the way, and when I reached down to grab the leaves, this ferocious, growling, scratching monster jumped out at my hand and tried to bite my finger off!!! It growled more fiercely than a Asland, and it’s teeth . . . it’s teeth were HUGE . . . with fangs like the sabretooth, and claws like, like, like a dragon!!! (No kidding, except that I think it was a terrified squirrel protecting itself when I unkowningly nearly reached into it’s home. What I then discovered after my heart started beating again, is that someone had actually boarded up the hole, and something had eaten away part of the board to get inside.) After the viscious attack, snapped a quick photograph, only to discover magick creatures appear in my photograph!
And now for my favorite photograph taken in the last week. It’s a simple photograph, but for some reason, I really like it.
Thanks for reading!

Great Horned Owl’s Nest

A few days ago, a friend called me to tell me he knew where there was a Great Horned Owl nest with babies. I was T-H-R-I-L-L-E-D! Like many people, the Great Horned Owl is my favorite raptor. (Yes, I know you all thought it was the American Bald Eagle, but it’s actually the Great Horned Owl. Eagles are just easier to find!) So much so, that my logo prominently displays one. Yet, I’ve never seen a Great Horned Owl in the wild, . . . until today!

Today the mother owl wasn’t in sight, but you could hear her hooting nearby. We watched and watched for her, but she never appeared in the nest. The baby was quite active though. It appears there’s only one fledgling in the clutch. So I got some cute photos of the baby for today.

Here’s something my rennie friends might find interesting. While researching the scientific name for the Great Horned Owl, which happpens to be Bubo Virginianus, I learned that the latter part of the name is named after the Virgin Queen, her majesty Queen Elizabeth I.

A special thanks goes out to that friend who called me to let me know about this photo opportunity. Thanks dude!

Illinois Birding Map

I’ve had this map for a few years now, and for all that time, it’s been a private map.  A couple years ago, I started working at a camera store, and started giving out the private URL to this map to some of my customers to help them find good places to photograph eagles and other birds.  I just recently realized that those customers must have been forwarding or posting this link on the internet because it’s been viewed thousands and thousands of times!  So I figured I’d post it here and make it truly public for everyone. 

This map has all of the locations I frequent for birding in northern Illinois and surrounding areas.  It includes example photographs taken at the locations marked on the map, and there are even a couple of videos included on some of the marked locations.  I update this map on a continuous basis, so if you want to bookmark it, you can always come back to it. 

If you find this useful, please let me know with a comment!

Eostre Sunday at Morton Arboretum

Today I was suppose to go to a family gathering.  The gathering was a 3 hour drive, and I woke up an hour late this morning.  Then my insulin pump ran out of insulin so it took me extra time to reload it, and it just took me forever to get ready to leave.  At the moment I was about to leave, I got an important phone call that took a half an hour.  So at that point I decided not to make the trip, because I would have been 1.5 hours late anyway, and still had to make the drive home the same day too. 

So I ended up going to Morton Arboretum to do some birding.  I hadn’t been birding since last summer, so it was very nice to have a beautiful day to do it.  Hearing all the bird calls, all the chirping, seeing so many different species in 1 day.  It was nice.  I listened to the wind a while, listened to the birds, went for some nice walks through the prairies, and took some photographs.  A wonderful day, even though it wasn’t with family. 

wordpress-mortonarboretum-eastersunday_04122009006I saw 3 turkey vultures soaring overhead, and got a nice clear picture of one.  I saw a red tail hawk kettle up to about 1000 feet, and then start a dive at some prey from at least a half mile away and 1000 feet up which was really cool, but my 200mm lens just wasn’t long enough to capture that.  I saw a cute little ground squirrel darting around in the dead leaves and grass of one of the prairies.  Oh! And I got a picture of a tree swallow in flight!  I don’t know if you know what a tree swallow is, but they’re these little birds that dart around in the sky as fast as lightning.  It’s hard enough just to track it with your camera, but it’s even harder to actually capture them with a camera.  I did it though!  Been trying to capture one of those birds mid flight for 4 years.  I also stopped to take some photos of the blooming daffodils. 

So anyway, another thing of note is when I saw all of the after church people going for walks at the arboretum.  A family of 4 was walking, and they had a daughter that looked about 8 years old, with a DSLR, in a cute little summer dress, taking pictures of daffodils.  She was so serious about it, I wanted to snap a few pictures but didn’t want to scare her parents.  They were yelling for her to hurry up, and I wanted to yell back at them that they can’t hurry an artist.  LOL! 

There are only a few pictures that I chose to keep from the days photos, but you can view them at the link below.  Make sure to check out the image labeled “Hidden Within”.