• whisperingpeaks

Short Eared Owls , Snow Geese and Reflections

The Short Eared Owl (Asio flammeus) is a popular daytime owl that can be found swooping over open grassland areas of Western Montana.

January to February is a good time to see these wonderful owls.

Don't look too close to see the "short ears" as I have yet to ever see them!

Their flight is unique which makes them easy to spot when flying. Its almost bat like or moth like in its flight. Another identifying mark is the black mask around the eyes.

Primary food can be small rodents to bats to birds. I usually see them hunting for voles when they pass through here on the way to their breeding grounds up north. They are also a permanent resident here in Montana and other northern states.

Dawn and dusk are the best times to look for them as they hunt.

Life span of the short eared owl is about four years or less.

February is usually a month I seek winter scenes and plan my trips for the year. Generally that involves my bride who is great at keeping me organized. She passed this last autumn so winter has been a period of adjusting and finding my way forward. She made me promise to make my trips and keep sharing my work, so I shall.

Lake McDonald is one of my favorite photography sites at this time of year. The sky is always a beautiful shade of blue. The mountains are always cloaked in snow. This year, the snow, up until my writing of this blog (February 8) had been quite sparse. Stanton Mountain to the left in the photo reflects that.

As we drift into the last part of February the amount of activity explodes and there is no way possible you will ever catch it all so pre-planning has always been a part of winter. The attempt always is to maximize the most opportunities possible.

For me that always means the first trip out the gate is Freezout Lake. I know it looks like its spelled wrong because it is. It is the way the original people spelled it on the map. Without the third "e".

Thousands of Snow Geese pass through Freezout Lake every spring and fall, though the spring migration is always the heaviest. Here is a photo from a couple years ago. Yep, those are all geese and when they lift off the sound is almost deafening!

Snow Geese come first and toward the end come the Ross Geese. Among the Snows are the dark phases which cause many to call Snow Geese , Blue Geese.

This year will be a mix of reflecting on our past years of adventures and on the future. My bride will always be beside me and be encouraging me to do the best I can and bring you all the best photos possible.

We had purchased a camper van and built the insides for our trips. It will be my home most of the spring this year as I will be camping near the sites and using it as a mobile photography blind. I look forward to bringing you the best I can find! I hope you enjoy the blogs as the season unfolds.

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