Snowy Owl and Photographers

2020 was the year of the owl for me. Started off spring through summer following a barred owl family, then in early December watching short-eared owls, and before the end of December catching a snowy owl. These are night photos from my first trip to see the snowy. I hope for another trip soon. All of these on this post were taken around sunset or shortly after from a distance. I have a zoom, but its largest aperture opening is 6.5 so I cannot do what the big boys and girls do with the camera. These photos are heavily cropped as well.

After sunset the owl flew down off the dune to the beach. She played with a branch for a little while, then at blue hour flew to a sign where the beach meets the path back to the parking lot.

Teasing the photographers by acting like it would fly before sundown.
A lot of people , but I only saw early on one who was low crawling up the dune the snowy owl was on. The rest of the time people seemed to keep to a respectful distance.
Late afternoon sun.
The photographers are actually a respectful distance. They are on another dune. more than 100 feet away. Snowy owl paparazzi.
Walking around on the beach after a short flight.
I missed it flying. I was climbing down from another sand dune where I was about to give up and start the long trek to my car. Sure enough on the trip down she started to fly.
She landed on the beach.
She spent a lot of time playing with this stick on the beach.
As all the photographers started to leave, she flew to the sign by the path from the beach to the parking lot. Either she was saying good-bye or was seeing us out so she could hunt without an audience.
Yes! Now I have the beach to myself!

Follow the rules when it comes to snowy owls. I believe the sign at the beach that said you can not come within 100 feet or it is a 250 dollar fine. I understand some pros try to flush them out to get them in flight. Do not do that. These birds are dwindling and we need to protect them.

Snowy Owl

Jones Beach is known for its 6.5 miles of white sand on the
Atlantic Ocean on New York’s Long Island. It is also known for its outdoor concerts in warmer months and drive through holiday lights display November through January. What is it also known for this year? It is known for some snowy owls who are visiting from a much colder climate.

The owl mostly slept all morning on top of a sand dune. Once in a while it would open an eye slightly.

Jones Beach is a barrier island encompassing 2,400 acres on the south shore of Long Island. It is a state park that includes the West End Energy and Nature Center at West End 2.

Eyes opened! Quick take a shot!

It has a variety of birds that can be seen at different points in the year including oystercatchers, terns, northern harper hawks, plovers, brants, and now the snowy owl. On the day I went I was told 2-3 were sighted there within a few days prior. That day I found one.

At this point in the day the weather would not look promising. Both eyes opened! Ocean is the dark area in the background.

I arrived around 10 in the morning, but took a long break in the middle of the afternoon to warm up in my car. I ended up leaving around 6 p.m. The light varied throughout the day from dark and cloudy to very sunny.

If you go to spot a snowy owl, know they are protected. Don’t make any unnecessary noise and keep a distance. I believe the sign at the entrance says to stay at least 100 feet away. It also stated there was a 250 dollar fine for violating that. I did see one person early on who I think was doing just that as he was low crawling up one side of the dune the owl was sleeping on. I have a zoom lens and these are cropped a lot.

This was later in the afternoon. I stuck to the shady side as it appeared to me the owl was facing this way most of the time. I hope to go again and have the sun to my back. I never heard a sound from this owl. The surf was high that day and it was windy. I think this was actually a yawn.

I was so happy to get this opportunity to see this owl. My friends Andrew and his wife Theresa let me know about this place to view the owls. Thank you Andrew and Theresa! I will post more pictures taken in the late afternoon and evening in another post. Happy New Year everyone!

Owl Catch

Cats take pride in being a predator. They are known to sneak a mouse or two inside as a trophy to impress the human caretaker of their house. Do owls try to impress humans with their hunting prowess?

It sure felt that this owl was trying to impress me when I was watching. The owl kept circling overhead holding onto its prey. I even think he was trying to insure I got a good shot of his kill.

The weather has been mostly cloudy and dark. We had 50-60 mile an hour winds last night. Hard to get good shots when you need to have your ISO up to very high numbers. Wishing for some sunny days in the week ahead. Merry Christmas everyone or Happy New Year! Stay safe!

Short-Eared Owls

Many animals migrate to warmer locales in the winter. Many leave behind northern states for southern ones. Do any animals winter in New York? Yes! One such animal is the short-eared owl. For these birds who come down from northern Canada or Alaska, New York is a warmer change of scenery.

I found 4-5 of these owls in a grassy fields surrounded by farmland. Short-eared owls prefer grasslands, fields, tundra, and marshes.

Short-eared owls nest on the ground. That makes them susceptible to predators such as coyotes, foxes, cats, and dogs. I heard someone talking at this location an they said a dead owl was found. They mentioned possibly a coyote got it.

I found them active in the afternoon. They may hunt in the daylight to coincide with vole activity. They prefer voles, but also eat mice, rats, small birds, and insects.

Short-eared owls arrive in New York around December and leave to return around March. Some areas of northern NY near the Canadian border have them residing there year round.

Flying low
They were talking to each other and flying about each other. Could they be a pair?

I just have a good amateur camera and lens and these birds were quite a distance away. Most images are cropped a lot. The big lens that people near me used made me envious. Hopefully, on another trip I may witness them closer with brighter skies. Regardless, they were fun to watch.

The Last Days of Autumn

Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go. Author Unknown

The pictures below were all taken recently in the Hudson Valley of New York. Some animals stay here the entire year. Others come from regions further north to winter here. Hopefully, I will catch some of these winter visitors soon.

Found this guy on top of a power pole alongside a rural road.
Squirrel stuffing himself silly on a branch in the woods.

Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge

The next photos are from a short trip I took a wildlife refuge. I hope to return there this weekend weather permitting.

Two bluebirds in the field. They followed me around on my walk.
Possibly their nest was in the the hole of this tree.
This hawk flies fairly low over the field then dives to get its prey.
Hawk flying with the Gunks in the background

Fall unofficially ended today with a major snowstorm. We could get over a foot by the time it passes through. Did the animals know a storm would be arriving soon? Do animals sense these things? Can they forecast weather?

Hay Bail Cow

Hay Bale Cow at McEnroe’s Organic Farm and Market in Millerton. NY.

I found another hay bale art piece. This one was also in New York. Some farmers wrap the hay bale in what looks like plastic. This farmer painted the covers for the hay bales. They made a cow. I guess this way the animals can still eat the hay because there is no paint on the bales. We have had a lot of dreary weather. Quite typical for November and December. Stay safe!

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday was started as a campaign to get people to shop at small, local businesses the day after Black Friday. Black Friday is said to be the biggest shopping day of the year and falls after Thanksgiving in the U.S. Some towns promote every Saturday as Small Business Saturday. Regardless, in this pandemic if shops are open, go out and support your local mom and pop stores if you are able. The chain stores saw most of the traffic yesterday. Help keep small, local businesses alive.

Millerton, N.Y. a small town in NY on the Connecticut border, had Santa and elves to greet people coming to their Main Street.

Pandemic Humor

From some memes:

“Sorry folks, the world is closed!”

“I’m not buying a 2021 planner until I see the trailer.”

“Not to brag, but I used soap before it was trending.”

Been busy over the last few weeks with work. I hope to get some pictures in the next few days. Stay safe.

Hay Bale Halloween

What do farmer’s do this time of year when they are bored? Some make hay bale art. What is hay bale art? When someone gets a bales of hay, arranges them to make an object, and paints them. The hay bales used can be cylindrical, cube, or rectangular prism-shaped. This art is more popular in farming states like Montana, but it is also popular in parts of Australia. Here are some examples I found in the Hudson Valley of New York. Happy Halloween!

This one appears to be made of rectangular prism shaped hay bales.
The rest of these are formed using rolled up or cylinder-shaped hay bales.

Paddling Fish Creek Ponds to Other Ponds

The Adirondack Mountains in New York has a lot of places to paddle where you do not have to get out of the water to go from one pond of lake to another. Others lakes or ponds may have cary paths between them. Fish Creek Ponds is another body of water you can access multiple bodies of water through without getting out of your canoe or kayak.

I actually launched from Follensby Clear Pond. The launch is near the Spider Creek Passage into Fish Creek Ponds. I launched from there to get two chances to see the loon baby and its mom. Going through Fish Creek Ponds after you go under the Route 30 bridge you see Fish Creek Ponds Campgrounds along the pond. These are paid sites. I could see a playground, beach, and fishing area.

Square Pond
On Fish Creek Ponds heading towards Square Pond
Square Pond Entrance

From there you can access Square Pond . I went in this body of water a short distance then turned and went towards Fish Creek.

Fish Creek

Fish Creek is a fairly wide creek in most areas. It is like a highway for canoeists and kayakers. Along the way you pass a dock to the canoe carry heading towards Follensby Clear Pond. The dock was too short for my 10 foot kayak to park at and the water next to the dock was too deep for me to step into. It was really more for canoes. This would be another way to get to Follensby Clear Pond avoiding a long paddle through Fish Creek Ponds, Spider Creek Passage and into Follensby Clear Pond.

Under this camp ground road leads into Fish Creek.
Once you went up Fish Creek a short ways, only boats with electric motors under 5 horsepower were allowed. This is great for kayakers and canoeists. It is also good for the wildlife.
Instead of paddling all the way back to Follensby Clear Pond from there a canoeist could pull up here and carry through a path to the pond. I tried to get out there ,but even on a sit on top kayak it was a no go. The dock was too short and the water right up to the land was too deep. I think it was actually about 2 1/2 to 3 feet deep or more next to the docks. It was all a very short area. I could not get close going head first or backwards to the dock in my over 10 foot kayak.
Copperas Pond
They actually had a sign up where you turn for this pond.

Next up was Copperas Pond. There are two primitive campsites on this body of water. They are across then pond from each other. Each has an open outhouse or privy. Behind the campsite I tied up at you also got a view of a another pond that had no outlet connecting it to other bodies of water.

Looking towards the opposite end of the pond. I saw an eagle flying towards another pond from here. The eagles in the Adirondacks travel from pond to pond or lake to lake.
This was looking towards the exit of Copperas Pond into Fish Creek.
Passage from Fish Creek into Floodwood Pond

Next I started paddling towards a Fish Creek passage that connects to Floodwood Pond and eventually Rollins Pond. Little Square Pond is beyond the entrance to this passage. It is unnamed on maps, but it may still be considered Fish Creek. At the entrance there was another primitive campsite. Floodwood Pond has several primitive campsites along it.

The water here was shallow.

I turned back before Floodwood as I had already paddled quite a ways from Follensby Clear Pond. I will save Floodwood and Rollins for another trip.

Wildlife
This was a long Fish Creek heading back. This is a beaver lodge. Beavers abound in the Adirondacks, but it appears this one, if still active does not dam the bodies of water.

I did see loons along the way. These ponds and creeks had more boat traffic due to the campgrounds on Fish Creek Ponds and Rollins Pond. Most of Fish Creek was not for power boats. Way back on Fish Creek beyond Copperas Pond I saw a loon who was quite busy fishing. I also saw a loon near the campgrounds at Fish Creek Ponds and a mother loon and her baby on the other side of Fish Creek Ponds near the private houses closer to Follensby Clear Pond.

In the summer there is more traffic on these bodies of water than others. It is due to two large campgrounds on Rollins Pond and Fish Creek Ponds. Both of those campgrounds allow caravans/campers. Despite that fact, it is still a nice place to paddle. I want to return to kayak from Rollins Pond to Floodwood Pond.