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April - Page 2 Chuck Kling

Written By onci on Thursday, April 15, 2010 | 9:58 AM

Persistance Pays Off by Chuck Kling

In the field with a Snowy owl and a muskrat

Over the years, Snowy owls have overwintered in the farmlands surrounding a certain village, about 100 kilometres east of Montreal.
This winter being no exception, a bunch of us have been photographing these northern visitors since early December.

Two individuals, in particular, stand out as having garnished the most attention from us shooters. One of these is a rather dark immature....and my adventure centres on this bird.

Recently , I returned alone to the site, leaving on a fairly nice morning. About half way through the trip, the weather turned on me and I found myself in a mini-blizzard, stuck behind a road salting truck. This continued on for a few kilometres and my first inclination was to take the nearest exit and head back home.....or to a coffee shop!

However I decided to push on and after a while, finally reached the outskirts of that village. I soon found myself completely alone on the side roads and in nearly white-out conditions.
Luckily it was quite mild and the wind had dropped almost to nothing. I drove very slowly, with my binoculars on my lap and soon noticed a dark form on the ground, a fair way out in the fields.
It was the darker of the two Snowys we know of...and it seemed to have caught some rather large prey. Getting out of the car, I advanced slowly and indirectly towards the owl...as is my usual method.

I then noticed that the large prey seemed to be a young muskrat.... the chance of a lifetime, I thought...it's not every day that someone has the opportunity to photograph this owl with a muskrat !

I worked my way closer.... at times advancing on my knees, handholding and shooting with my 300mm f2.8 VR and D300 combo.

The bird soon lifted off and landed a short distance away, where I was able to capture a series of action shots.
Soon it flew off again into the near whiteness of the morning.....and I returned to my car.

What could have passed as just an ordinary morning in a coffee shop, ended up as a truly memorable adventure.

Persistence paid off !

Chuck Kling
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