Year in Review 2013
Even though we are a few days into 2014 I wanted to share some of my more memorable moments that I encountered in 2013. They are in no particular order as it is hard to place one in front of the other. This past year was filled with memorable moments. It is the ones that stick out most in my memory that I wanted to share today.
Snowy Owl (Ocean Shores, Washington)
Earlier last year, an “echo” irruption took place in the western United States, in what was thought of to be a rare occasion even though we are currently having a huge explosion of owls here on the east coast at present time. I took a trip to Washington with two friends of mine for my first Snowy Owl experience. The travel out there was, well, awful to say the least. But that is neither here nor there. The experience was unforgettable. I’ll never forget how I felt when I spotted my first Snowy Owl, I was in awe. My short two day trip out west presented me with great opportunities and picture perfect weather.
Wilson’s Plover Nest (Flagler Beach, Florida)
My wife and I took a trip to Florida in May as I had hoped to get some photos of baby shore birds emerging from their nests. Well, I arrived several days too early for the little ones as it is impossible to set a target date for such an occurrence. I just have to hope for the best basing it off of previous years. What I did find though was a VERY photographical Plover nest that a Florida photographer friend of mine and I both enjoyed several great looks at from outside the roped off area. I was able to photograph a female Wilson’s Plover settling down onto her nest of three eggs on the sandy beach.
Least Tern Courtship (Flagler Beach, Florida)
Taken at the same location there were several Least Terns doing courtship behavior. I had hoped, again, to photograph baby shore birds but none had hatched yet. What I was able to witness though was some amazing courtship behavior of the Terns. For some of the shots I was able to get super low, actually shooting at an upward angle that created an effect that makes it look like the Terns are placed on a cloud.
Great-horned Owl nest (Brecksville Reservation, Ohio)
A great opportunity presented itself close to home for me in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. A nest of three Great-horned owlets in clear view nesting in a rotted out tree.The parents were very elusive, only coming around at night fall to feed the little ones. I visited this nest several times at various lighting conditions including rain. The rain gave some nice color saturation, it also kept everyone else away from the nest! J
Great-horned Owlet (Brecksville Reservation, Ohio)
All three owlets fledged the nest above successfully and word got out that they were roaming around the area. I took a trip up there one day to see if I could locate the owl which I was told were lattering up nearby trees until they could learn to fly. This one pose that this guy flashed me as the sun was setting always stands out in my mind. My wife calls it the batman pose, as the owls is turned around tucking its head in its wing. I have to agree with her assessment of the caption.
Medina Raptor Center
I belong to a photography group called MPEG, in which I am a group coordinator. Coordinators are in charge of organizing photography shooting opportunities/events. I held a first time shoot at the Medina Raptor Center, raising almost $500 for this non-profit volunteer service that takes in and rescues injured birds. It was actually the first time I photographed captive birds as I normally prefer wild ones. The shoot was fun and the money went to a great cause. We set various raptors up on different perches on a stand that my dad created. It was something that I enjoyed doing and hope to do again for years to come.
Eastern-screech Owl, Red-Morph (Brecksville Reservation, Ohio)
Literally the first shot I took during the New Year in 2013 was this Red-Morph Screech Owl. I had been waiting for some snow fall to return to this location to get some snow in my composition and low and behold on New Year’s Eve night we got some snow. So New Year’s day morning off I went to try and photograph the owl. After a couple hours of patiently waiting the owl appeared and I got my shot I had been envisioning.
Eastern-screech Owl, Grey-Morph (Firestone Park, Ohio)
Until this moment, I had never seen a Grey-Morph Screech Owl. Seeing the photo below, I have to wonder how often I have walked past them before! It was amazing to see just how well they blend in with the tree. Something interesting that I noticed when I got home is how the owl fluffed its feathers outside the tree cavity to help it blend in better with the tree. I have to wonder, just how does the owl know it is in the right colored tree?
Snowy Owls, (Presque Isle State Park, Pennsylvania)
Never thought I would have Snowy Owls on this list twice. Truth is, the irruption this year is very unusual. Snowy Owls are showing up ALL OVER the eastern US. From Ohio, over to Pennsylvania and all over the east coast and even Florida, yes FLORIDA! A report of one in Jacksonville Florida sent photographers all over the state into a frenzy during a family visit with my wife in December. People were driving from Miami to the top of the state for a glimpse. Closer to home though I decided to check out Pennsylvania after talking to several other photographers that had been there. My visit was on a wind driven rainy day, making photography even more challenging. The over 1.5 mile walk out to the location was difficult enough without even taking the weather into consideration. But I’ve had these guys burned into my brain since the first report appeared around here.