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by OntPhoto on Mon Jan 02, 2017 8:04 pm
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Although it had been quiet for fall, I had a feeling winter 2016-2017 would be more like winter 2008-2009 far as Great Gray Owls are concerned.  A smaller number of these owls showing up.  (Winter 2004-2005 and winter 2012-2013 were big irruption years where great gray owls showed up early in November and December).  Well, a few of them are starting to show up now.  That was the case for winter 2008-2009 too when they only showed up in January.  Check eBirds (Montreal/Laval area).

I could also go photograph them only a 5 hour drive north of Ottawa in Quebec where there have been about 5 sightings since fall 2016.  Same with Northern Hawk Owls.  But Montreal is much closer - a 2 hour drive.

In Ottawa, we have about 3 to 4 Snowy Owls in the same place as last winter, between Rushmore and Brownlee east of Eagleson including one almost very white adult male snowy.  Sometimes they're deep in the field so may have to go trekking to look for them.  Many folks park along Brownlee and then cross Eagleson and into the field.  That's where they hang out and all the way left toward those tall double hydro poles all the way toward Rushmore.  Akins (just off Eagleson) is good too.

Great Gray Owls should be in the Ottawa area too. I was checking out some locations late this afternoon.  Have to go check the east end too including Petrie Island.  And even further east where I have seen them in the past.


The most popular location for Northern Hawk owl is near Quebec City.  Enjoy, have fun and photograph responsibly.  :)

PS.  There are more GGO around than is being reported but can't talk about it as info is from birders.  All you need is one anyway.


Last edited by OntPhoto on Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:17 pm, edited 5 times in total.
 

by OntPhoto on Mon Jan 02, 2017 8:08 pm
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The Secret Lives of Owls on the CBC on January 17th.

http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episodes/the-secret-life-of-owls
 

by rajandesai on Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:54 pm
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Thanks for sharing this information. I might drive up there from Boston, MA area one of these weekends. Will you be able to guide me with the area that I should focus on? Thanks in advance for any help.

Cheers,
 

by OntPhoto on Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:25 am
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rajandesai wrote:
Thanks for sharing this information. I might drive up there from Boston, MA area one of these weekends. Will you be able to guide me with the area that I should focus on? Thanks in advance for any help.

Cheers,


If I can give any advice, it is to use eBird.  That is how I find out where birds are.  I can talk about the Northern Hawk Owl near Quebec City since everyone knows about that owl along highway 138.  When I was there several weeks ago, I counted about 24 photographers and that was in 1.5 hours.  The owl is hard to see as you drive by because of the high mound of snow along the road and the land slopes down from the road to where the owl is located.  People cannot see you from the road when driving unless they are standing on the sidewalk looking down.  I drove by several times and didn't see anything and was about to leave when I saw many cars parked at this one road opposite the owl location.  That is usually a good indicator something is up.  Sure enough, across the road (hwy 138) is where the owl was.  I'll send you the coordinates via PM soon (like I said, just about everyone knows about that northern hawk owl). Feel free to share it. There are actually 2 and some have said 3, in that general area.

Far as great gray owls are concerned, I only know of the 2 reported to eBirds and I haven't gone looking for them yet. Check eBirds and I mentioned one of the locations already in my original post. Both in Laval, Quebec.  But for the northern hawk owl near Quebec City, you will find it pretty easily once you know where to look.  I plan to head back there soon to show some non-birder and non-photographers what an owl looks like in person.  There's nothing like seeing an owl in person to spark an interest.   

Updated January 8th:  Lots of people were looking for the GGO on Saturday but wasn't found.  But another one has popped up elsewhere in the city.  They're definitely around and I'll continue to look for them in my city too but can only share the ones that many people already know about. 
 

by OntPhoto on Mon Jan 16, 2017 8:19 am
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We have just as many snowy owls around the greater Ottawa area this winter as in the past several years.  They seem to return to the same farm fields.  I counted about 4 snowy owls in the farm fields running along Rushmore, Brownlee, Akins and Eagleson area of west end of Ottawa.  Same place as last winter.  Same owls?  Maybe.  If you follow Project SnowStorm where they band and put GPS tracking monitors on the backs of snowy owls, some owls do return to the same location in the winter.

One banded snowy owl, Baltimore, spent last winter on Amherst Island before leaving for the north in the spring.  They tracked it again this winter to Amherst but apparently it didn't stay long.  I've heard that Amherst Island has not been good for owls or raptors this winter.  Maybe the vole population is down this year on Amherst.  The hard-packed snow with freezing rain weather we've been getting also makes it hard for raptors to find small mammals.  Last I heard Baltimore was in Kinburn, an area just west of Ottawa.  

Someone in the Montreal area had seen a returning snowy owl for a few years too.  This particular snowy owl has a bad eye making it easier to identify. So, who knows, maybe a couple of the snowy owls I photographed this weekend are owls that also spent last winter in the same farm fields.  Last winter they had 4 to 5 in the exact same area.  

Photographed all 4 on the weekend. I counted 14 cars along Rushmore photographing the large female on top of the tall double hydro poles.  The weather was really nice for a change and great to see people spending some time enjoying the great outdoors.
https://www.theweathernetwork.com/photos/view/birds/4-snowy-owls-in-one-afternoon/28491639

The almost all white male snowy owl  in the same area.  It is often being chased away by the much larger female snowy owl. 
http://www.pbase.com/golfpic/image/164805375/original
 

by OntPhoto on Tue Jan 17, 2017 5:49 pm
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The Montreal area has a number of Great Gray Owls and all have been reported to eBirds so many people know about them.  One will be very reliable.  Hope to go photograph it very soon.  

As mentioned previously, irruption winter 2016-2017 will be like irruption winter 2008-2009 where the owls tend to be smaller in number and concentrate in certain areas.  Back in 2008-2009 we had them in Ottawa in the west end.  I am sure there are some here too this winter.  The next week or two will be interesting.  But we do know they are in the Montreal area (including just west of Montreal).
 

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