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This guy was probably the greatest thrill I've had as a birder. I'd heard of the massive irruption of Great Grey and Northern Hawk Owls in northern Minnesota at the start of this winter, and since I'd never seen either, I just had to go.
I only had about a day and a half, and really wasn't expecting much. BOY, was I wrong!! Within 10 minutes of arriving, I saw my first Great Grey Owl. Within 20 minutes, I had 3 Great Grey Owls, and my first Northern Hawk Owl. By the end of the 1 1/2 days, I'd had over 30 Northern Hawk Owls, and 50 Great Grey Owls!!!
But this guy was the greatest thrill. I'd seen a few of them up to the time of finding this guy, but none very close. Well, this guy was sitting in a bush, RIGHT next to the road. I pulled up, and just stared at him, from no more than 10 feet away!! I admired him for a bit, then slowly reached for my camera. I pulled it up, tried to focus...and I was too close for the camera to focus!! I had to scoot over to the passenger side to have enough room to focus!!
I ended up staying and watching this guy for an hour, from this close distance, and he even started to nod off and sleep a couple of times. Certainly a trip I'll never forget.
Photo taken on December 13th, 2004 in Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota.
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