Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Great Gray Roadtrip Final Post

We were back on the road by 2:45pm with a brand new alternator in the truck.  Pretty fast service for a dealership, and everyone was really nice.  The employees certainly live up to the company name, Friendly Ford!  After a little SNAFU finding the Ambassador Bridge over to Windsor, Ontario, we were finally in Canada.  

You can tell we're in our truck, see that crack in the windshield on the left?  Going through Customs was a breeze.  They were more interested in Steve than anyone else.  Guess he looks a little sketchy with that shaggy beard!  LOL!

After following the directions from the bird hotline, we pulled onto Road #2 and saw a bunch of cars pulled over about a mile ahead.  The sun was just touching the horzon, and we only had a few minutes of light left.  You could feel the tension and anticipation in the truck as we got closer to our destination.  As we approached Arner Townline Road, we saw about 10 cars lining both sides of the road just ahead.  

A group of people were clustered together on the right shoulder and a few others were standing on the opposite side of the road.  There, on the telephone wire, not 20 feet from the nearest person, was a beautiful Great Gray Owl!  

Massive, and beautiful in rich chocolate brown, white, and gray, it glowed in the late afternoon light. 

It was so unconcerned with the mass of people snapping pictures of it, that it didn’t even look at them.  It just turned its back on us and focused on watching the grass in the ditch for prey. 

We pulled over at the first open spot on the road and quickly jumped out of the truck.  We were able to snap a couple of great pictures, as the bird methodically worked the ditch from telephone pole to telephone pole. 

It would intently watch the grass and then rotate its head to the other side and scan the roadside for a few seconds.  Then its attention would return to the original spot in the tall weeds. 

Eventually, It flew across to the north side of the road into a small tree about 5 ft from the road and kept hunting.  

The bird didn’t even react when the Canadian police car drove by and announced on the load speaker that we needed to stay off the road.  Then, suddenly, the bird dropped down into the weeds in the ditch.  

I heard 45 cameras click.  After foraging for a second or two, it emerged with a vole in its mouth.  Incredible! Then, it turned around, facing all of us, and proceeded to gulp the vole down in 2 swallows. 

I never imagined that I would get this good of a look at a Great Gray.  It was amazing!   Life Bird number 563 for me, and 655 for Dave and 450-something for Steve.  Woohoo!!  Happy Dance!

We were back in the car and heading home by 5:15pm.  Decided not to spend the night and just drive home.  Dave says the truck has more pep now that it has a fully operational alternator.  So, what the heck, let’s just come home.  It’s been a very successful adventure!


Sister Marty said... cool was that. I am so glad you three got to see that bird. I remember driving to Minnesota to see my first and only Great Grey Owl in 2005. It was such a great feeling seeing the bird and the experience is so exhilarating. Looking forward to our trip tomorrow. Here we come Calliope...S. Marty

mrsbirder said...

I know, Marty! I've never seen such a magnificent and impressive bird. I think this is now my favorite owl. It is just a regal bird. I can't get over how long the body and tail are!