Way way back at the beginning of this blog, we had a winter here in northern Minnesota that was full of great gray owls. I could not drive to work without seeing a dozen or more. It was amazing, and it was probably what got me to start blogging.
There has not been a northern owl irruption like that since, and there may never be. But recently I had heard of numerous sightings of boreal owls near Duluth, with a few great grays also reported. With the ever-present chance of seeing a snowy owl at the Superior airport, I decided it might be worth a day trip. I mentioned my tentative plans on Facebook, and I found a friend, Diana, whom I knew from the Christmas Bird Count, who was interested in accompanying me. When it comes to birding, two sets of eyes are much better than one.
The birding reports made it sound like we could just drive along Scenic Highway 61 along the Lake Superior shore until we encountered parked cars and spotting scopes, which would point the way to a boreal owl. Alas, the boreal owls, which would have been a life species for me, were evading even the most ardent birders that day. But we had one sighting and photo opportunity that made the day worthwhile:
During the great gray owl irruption of 2005, I did not yet own a digital camera, which was frustrating given the number of perfect photo opportunities I had. This shot more than makes up for it!