13 February 2009

Owego area - 10 Feb. 2009

Torre Hovick and I made a trip out to western Iowa in hopes of relocating a Snowy Owl that had been present for several weeks.  Unfortunately, the Snowy was NOT present (although it returned several days later!!).

Still, we had a good day of birding.  In the Owego area, we had:

Snow Buntings
Rough-legged Hawks
Northern Harriers
Merlin (see photo below)

We later headed back east stopping along the way.  One stop provided some great opportunities for geese pictures in flight. 

Above is a Canada Goose coming in for a landing.  Below is a Cackling Goose doing the same.

Once on the ground, I took a couple shots of some Cackling Geese, look at how it's dwarfed by the near Canada Geese!

The below Cackling Goose caught my attention.  Note the white forehead patch!  Apparently, white "foreheaded" geese are just uncommon variants.

We later went to Moorhead Park in Ida County to looks for owls.  We were not dissapointed!  First, we flushed a single Long-eared Owl.  Second, Torre spotted a Northern Saw-whet Owl!  Photographed below, you can see it's roosting with prey in its talons!

This particular Northern Saw-whet Owl was rather obscured by branches.  Below is one of the clearer shots.

We kept looking for owls and soon found a tree with SIX Long-eared Owls in it!!  Below are two photographs of a couple of them.

However, perhaps the most noteworthy sighting of the day was (believe it or not), a TURKEY VULTURE that was found soaring over Fort Dodge!  This is exceedingly early for this species to be found anywhere in Iowa yet alone north central Iowa!  Given the past week of warm temperatures, strong south winds, and the melting of all our snow, this sighting wasn't too far-fetched.