Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

Jan 29, 2017

1 Barred Owl 1-25-17

A real Jack Hammer of a winter snowstorm rolled across the northern half of Iowa Tuesday night.  By the time daylight arrived Wednesday, my truck roof was covered with just over a foot of beautiful new snow and the white    was still coming down at a pretty good clip.  In north central Iowa – where I live — there wasn’t much wind, but up here you know it can’t be far off.  With new snow piling high on every branch and twig, the landscape had become a Winter Wonderland.  But conditions can change in a minute.  On such a fine winter’s day as this, there was no time to waste.  Keeping the camera under my jacket, I was in the woods well before there was enough light to shoot.  Things were pretty quiet to begin with; a fresh white-tail track was the only sign of life for the first half hour.  Things began to stir at sunrise with a cardinal, and a few juncos and nuthatches making their appearance.  A more noteworthy item was a barred owl sitting atop a snag at the base of a shallow ridgeline.  The owl looked as if it had had a rough night, mainly due to its soggy looking plumage.  Instead of flying off, the big owl partially closed its eyes in hopes of becoming invisible – kind of the same routine as screech owls often employ.  Formerly a denizen of large timbers, barred owls are becoming an increasingly common resident around many our smaller woodlots.  Their wild nighttime hooting is a welcome addition to the winter landscape.2 Curious buck 1-25-17

Next, I jumped a young white-tailed buck from it bed behind a big downfall.  Although less than 35 yards away, the deer couldn’t really see through the snow clad understory and was confused by my presence.  After moving off a ways, the buck stopped to look back in an attempt to figure out what was going on which gave me time for a quick shot.  A mature Cooper’s hawk came flying in a landed a short distance away. 3 Cooper's 1-25-17

Unlike the owl, the Cooper’s was bone dry and it was easy to tell from her demeanor that the hawk was on the hunt.  Since I was already facing the right direction, all I had to do was slowly focus and shoot.  Nervous and energetic, Cooper’s hawks are always on hair trigger and any shot of this species is a good one.  Later I made contact with a doe.  The slight breeze was in my favor and, unlike the young buck, she had no problem posing for the camera. 

 

4 doe 1-25-17

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