On our second day in Sax-Zim Bog, the Great One, the elusive Great Gray Owl, finally appeared in my viewfinder. It was three and a half years ago that I first went in search of Great Gray Owls. And, until yesterday I had never set eyes on one of these huge, magnificent creatures. It was almost five o’clock. The sun was setting and the light was dim. There had been several reports of sightings but we were always 20 minutes late. Heading out of the Bog, we drove slowly down Highway 7 which, according to all the reports, offered the most promise. A single car had stopped ahead of us and two people with large lenses emerged and set up their cameras. We pulled up and immediately spotted the Great Gray, nearly the size of a yardstick, perched on a dead, lichen covered snag in clear view. What a treat to see him. He tolerated us and the dozen or more cars and twice that many photographers that quickly joined in the Sax-Zim Bog version of a Yellowstone Bison Jam. As the light dimmed further and a freight train approached that would soon block the view as it chugged down its track, we left and savored a great end to a fabulous day.
On a February afternoon, a Blue Jay perched in a lichen-covered tree in the Boreal forest in Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota, fluffs its feathers to compensate for the chilly 10° temperatures. I have had very few opportunities to photograph Blue Jays because they don’t live in California. The ubiquitous Scrub Jays in California are every bit as blue but lack the blue crest and the black facial accents. The breast feathers on this jay remind me of a warm shawl draped across its shoulders. Because its blue body feathers aren’t visible, it completely changes the overall look of the bird.