Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Nature Watch: Great Horned Owl



A few days ago, I walked into my office and was halfway to my desk when I spotted a Great Horned Owl looking in my window. I deked to the right to hide behind the drapes. A few seconds later, I leaned to the left and peered out to see if it was still there...it was leaning to the right peering back at me.

I snapped back from view and reached for my camera...but I'd left it in the living room!



Since I didn't want to yell, I whipped out my phone and texted Nelson who was also in the house…


Moments later I heard him padding down the hall. I motioned him to stop before he reached the door and jabbed my finger in the owl's direction. Nelson peered around the corner and his eyes widened. I stepped into view, took the camera, and clicked away at the owl. Behind me, I heard Nelson retreat, and then he returned and I heard him taking pics, too. 


Great Horned Owl, Front View. Source: Nelson Draper


Great Horned Owl, Looking to side. Source: Anita Mae Draper

The owl looked around and at us for a minute or so, and then turned and hopped away to another branch. The last photo of the owl looking back reminds me of a 1950s chenille bedspread due to the unique feather placement.


Great Horned Owl, Looking Back. Source: Nelson Draper

The owl checked out the place for a minute or so, and then turned and hopped away to another branch. This last photo of the owl looking back at us reminds me of a 1950's chenille bedspread due to the unique feather placement. However, when I look at its extended back and down to its feathered legs and sharp talons, I'm reminded more of a wary cat than a comfy bed. As usual, I'm amazed at God's creativity when I see something as special as a Great Horned Owl. By the way, the use of the word, horned, refers to its ear tufts.

Here's a short clip of the owl before and after it had hopped to another branch. If the video doesn't work, you can find it at: https://youtu.be/8Mn1gjMma-s 






Of course, this owl encounter has given me ideas about including the scene in a story, similar to how I included the cranes in my novella, Sweet Love Grows. I enjoy adding wildlife to my stories and hope the readers can see that.

Do you have a favorite owl, whether real, virtual, or fiction? Have you had an encounter with one? Care to share? 


Note: Since it's my blogging day, this post is also published on Aug 16, 2017 at www.inkwellinspirations.com



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Nature Watch March 2017



We're playing post catch-up at Draper's Acres with some photos we took in March of this year. I'll start off with this photo of a Sharp-Tailed Grouse taken by Nelson while out-and-about on March 5.

Sharp-tailed Grouse, Southeastern Saskatchewan, March 5, 2017


On March 8th, Nelson was greeted by a special sunrise called a sun dog, a rarity this year. It was also a milder winter and although we received a good amount of snow, it wasn't all at once. With the mild weather, what snow did fall melted and blew away so there wasn't a huge buildup like other years.


Sun Dog, Southeastern Saskatchewan, March 8, 2017 at 7:37 am

A week later, Nelson saw a herd of White-tailed deer trotting across the prairie, but it was this shot of three of them with the breath-taking sunrise in the background that caught my eye.

White-tailed Deer, Southeastern Saskatchewan, March 15, 2017 at 7:04 am

Meanwhile, back at Draper's Acres, I took dozens of shots of this Black-capped Chickadee this winter but he moved so fast while searching for food among the evergreens that I only managed a couple decent photographs. With that speed, I figure he deserves his chance to shine on our blog.

Black-Capped Chickadee, Mar 19, 2017, Montmartre, SK

On March 24th I saw a coyote running across the southern part of the field where it rises out of our small valley. The light was horrid at noon on that dreary day, but here's what I saw . . . from our living room, looking through the longest zoom on my P520 Nikon, the coyote had an ethereal quality as it crossed the stubble near the top of the rise with nothing but sky behind it.

Coyote, March 24, 2017, Montmartre, SK

The wind was playing havoc with the air currents between the coyote and the trees on the southwest corner of our land when the coyote crossed that portion. By that time I was standing on my porch and it stopped to get a look at me before continuing his trot to points west.

Coyote, March 24, 2017, Montmartre, SK

While washing dishes the next day, I looked out the window and saw a mouse darting out of a snow tunnel near the feeder stand. He latched onto a food particle, spent a couple minutes devouring it, then darted back into the tunnel. A small flock of migrating juncos landed and then hopped about feeding on dropped seeds. During one of the rodent's forays, I snapped this shot to use as a size comparison between the two amicable species.

Dark-eyed Junco and Mouse, March 25, 2017, Montmartre, SK

March 26 was a Sunday which gave us the chance to check out migrating waterfowl in the sloughs along the way. We saw Canada Geese and Mallards, and a special treat in the form of a regal pair of Northern Pintails.

Canada Goose and Northern Pintails, March 26, 2017, Mutrie, SK

A few hours later, I saw a Downy Woodpecker on the power pole beside this feeder full of Niger seeds. She spent some time on the side of the pole, and up near the top, and then finally flew down and latched onto the feeder. She hung there and ate for a long time while the feeder swung in the wind like a pendulum.


Downy Woodpecker, March 26, 2017, Montmartre, SK

After supper of the same Sunday, we saw the first American Robin of the season. I played with the settings to mute the branches in the photograph so that the robin as well as the caption were more visible, and then I explained how I did it on my photo blog.


American Robin, March 26, 2017, Montmartre, SK

European starlings usually come through this time of year in a mixed flock with Robins, Red-wing Blackbirds, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds, but this year a small flock of about half a dozen starlings were by themselves. They came on the worst weather days and so I didn't get a photo of them, but because they are so unusual, I'm providing a photo I took of one two years ago:

European Starling, April 2, 2015, Montmartre, SK


Flocks of snow geese also came through, flying high above our heads, including this fabulous formation taken by Nelson.

Snow Geese, Southeastern Saskatchewan, March 29, 2017

During March we also saw:

  • A Hawk in a blizzard on Mar 3
  • Another Coyote on Mar 20
  • Tree Sparrow on Mar 26 
  • Mallards on Mar 26
  • Moose on Mar 28
  • Horned Lark on Mar 29
  • Red-winged Blackbirds on Mar 30
  • *Black-billed Magpies
  • *House Sparrows


* Year-round residents at Draper's Acres


From our photo files, it appears that the migrating birds arrived one week earlier than last year, but it was a weird month as you'll see when the next Nature Watch post goes up here at Draper's Acres. We hope you'll check it out.