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  • Writer's pictureTodd

The Long Wait

My last blog goes all the way back to November! What happened?? I'll tell you...I hatched an idea and it took much longer to follow through with it than I ever imagined. You see, every now and then I get asked why I don't sell my photos or asked if I could get some prints made for people. My idea was to add a store to my site so that people could buy prints, mugs, canvas wraps, etc. I had the hardest time trying to figure it out and finally decided to hire someone to build this store for me. I made my initial payment on December 28th and was excited that in, according to the contract, I'd have a store in 2-3 weeks. Perfect! The next blog would be to introduce the store. Well, 2-3 weeks turned into March. Very frustrating. I won't get into that whole thing except to say that if I want work done on my site again, I will figure it out for myself. F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-I-N-G!!

The store is now live and while I honestly don't expect to make any sales, it will be there for those interested. I still have a great deal of pictures to add and if you see something that is not in the store and you would like to purchase it, let me know and I will see if it's doable. Why would you not be able to purchase a product? Well, it could be that the picture is heavily cropped and that to get you a good quality print in the size you want would distort the photo and you would not get a print of the quality you would want (or that I would want you to purchase). I go through each photo that is in the store to be sure that they are of the quality needed to make a great order!

The orders are printed and shipped directly from Order A Print. They say that orders will be delivered to you in 12 working days. I did a test order to see what they are like. I ordered 3 different canvas wraps, a metal print, and a framed print. Part of the order arrived in 10 days and the rest on the 13th day. Everything was packaged extremely well and the products were as they should be! Note, this did fall over the Easter holiday, so that may have made a difference in the 13 day delivery. If you have any questions, please contact me!

Let's start all the way back to when it snowed - no, not April 20, way before that!

It was one of those heavy, wet snows and the woods never looked so beautiful. I remember the ride out was a lot longer than normal, but the trip was well worth the effort.

Mr. and Mrs. Great-horned Owl didn't seem all to thrilled about the snow. Matter of fact, the Mrs. gave me a big Bah-Humbug and turned her back to me! More on these two a little later.

This past winter really was the winter of the owls. The Snowy Owls always seem to be the big draw, especially when they show up early in the year.

Those eyes! They really are a special treat. Something I've learned along the way about Snowy Owls is that, while we typically associate owls as being nocturnal, the Snowy hunts in both day and night. Makes sense since it's home range has periods of nearly 24 hour darkness and 24 hour daylight. We had reports this year of one as far south as Georgia!

Most of the time when I am out and about looking for owls or birds of prey, I am alone. This past winter my son asked, somewhat out of the blue, if he could come with me to look for Long-eared Owls. He is not the early bird I am, but he got up and was ready to go, on time. We headed to a mid-Michigan area where I had seen one the weekend before. It wasn't looking good for a while there and so we split up. I was nearing the end of the area I was covering and had stopped to check the big field for Northern Harriers. As I turned around and made my way past the last evergreen, something caught me eye. There it was, deep in the tree near the trunk. We stared at each other for a minute before I raised the camera for a quick photo. I backed slowly away and went to get my son. Keeping our distance as to not flush the bird, I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to point it out to Matt. Not until he used the binoculars could he spot it. His response, "Wow, how the heck did you see that?"

In addition to the owl, he got to see two Bald Eagles feasting on a deer carcass (cameraman was slow, missed the pic, oops!) and a male Northern Harrier, also known as a Gray Ghost. The picture isn't all that great and covered quite a distance, but I finally got he male. Having a second set of eyes with me really helped. He was the one that spotted it.

A favorite spot in southern Michigan brought the good fortune of another Long-eared Owl.

Back north to check on another owl sighting. This time it was a Short-eared Owl. These guys always seem to pop up right at dark, making photographing them a real challenge. But this day was different. I couldn't believe my eyes when this bird sat right there for me.

I've made multiple trips back to this area and have not had any more success for the Shorties. I did, however, find that the area holds a great number of Rough-legged Hawks! A winter-time visitor, these birds are just awesome. The Rough-legged hawk, Ferruginous Hawk and Golden Eagle are the only American Hawks to have fully feathered legs down to their toes.

With so many hawks around, I got to wondering what they were all hunting. It didn't take too long to figure out...

I have never seen so many wild pheasants in my life. Every evening they would start out of the heavy brush in the fields and start to forage for food. Those hawks and owls were eating very well!

A special treat this past winter was a Mink that was busy collecting fish for it's family. It appeared once the little pond in the area had froze up. It would make a few holes in the ice and dive in one and pop up in another. It didn't seem bothered by the guy with the camera, but would never give a good look when it had a fish. Next year little Mink, next year!

Every now and then we get that visitor to Michigan that just leaves you scratching your head. Well into the winter months, a Glossy Ibis was hanging out in the Saginaw Bay area. These birds are usually found in wetlands and marshes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It was off course for sure, but healthy and eating and flying. Then one day, gone.

Until February, we really didn't have that bad a winter. The lakes had, for the most part, stayed open. It did not help me much in the way of photographing migrating ducks. By the time Lake St. Clair froze, most ducks were already back in the big waters of Lakes Huron and Michigan.

Ruddy Duck
Canvasback Duck
Common Merganser with a Goby breakfast
Winter time sunrise on Lake Saint Clair