To say the least, winter is a great time to be out enjoying nature and seeking out wildlife to photograph. Getting out there with your camera gear can lead to a day to remember.
One of the more magnificent creatures to look for is the great gray owl. As the days grow colder in December and January, the great gray can be found hunting for mice and voles in the early morning and late afternoon. It can also be seen during the day.
This bird of prey is North America’s largest owl with the male standing up to 27 inches. It’s most easily seen using fence lines that parallel many of our roads. Wise enough to take full advantage of the fence post’s convenient height as a suitable hunting tool, the great gray is able to perch quietly and listen for its prey’s movements at a remarkable 12 inches under the snow. Hunting by hearing alone is one of this owl’s specialties.
As seen in this photo taken with a 300 mm lens, many great gray’s can be quite comfortable with human presence if approached respectfully. This of course makes them a favourite subject for wildlife photographers.
Preparing your gear for an owl shoot is important to making it a successful outing. Do all your planning the evening before you head out into the field. You’ll need to fully charge your camera batteries and keep a spare set handy and warm in your pocket. Extra clothing to brave the elements is never a bad idea. It’s always smart to be prepared for extreme winter conditions despite the reported forecast.
Also, clearing all your memory cards to make room for all those owl shots should be a priority. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a cooperative subject in front of you with your memory card full.
With a great gray as your subject, it’s a good idea to keep your eye on it at all times. Gliding away silently on soft wings is another owl specialty. It can virtually disappear from sight in an instant if your back is turned.
This owl is pure magic to view and photograph. Here’s a tip to get you started; try the Lac le Jeune road just outside of Kamloops anytime during December or January. You should be rewarded in this area. Let me know how you’re doing or if I can help in any other part of your wildlife photography adventures.