This afternoon, around 3:30, I decided to head out to Egremont Drive, a short distance northwest of Strathroy. This area is known as a good place to find SNOWY OWLS in the winter. As I approached “the area”, I noticed a large hawk sitting at the top of a tall tree. From the position of the hawk, I figured Red-tailed Hawk. But it looked too dark for a typical Red-tail. With my binoculars, I could tell it was a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK. I got this picture.
I drove a little further and saw a white speck way out in a field. With the binoculars, I could tell it was a SNOWY OWL. I watched it for a while then decided to head on over to Seed Road, about 1/2 km further. I have often had good luck finding Snowies along Seed. But today was not one of those days. It was dead. Not even a single Horned Lark. So I decided to head back and have another look at the owl in the field.
As I approached the area where I had seen the owl, I saw it flying right towards the road and my car. I pulled over and at the last minute, it pulled up and flew right up to the top of a tree that was just in front of me. It sat up there and looked down at me.
I sat there for about 15 minutes watching it before driving away. But just as I got a little ways down the road, something told me to go back and have one last look. So I pulled a U-turn and headed back. It was still there. But then I noticed another bird sitting at the top of another tree a little further down the road. I thought it was probably a kestrel. I drove down and pulled up under the tree. It did not fly off. I immediately thought – MERLIN. A kestrel would have flown off when I pulled up that close and stopped the car. Without binoculars, I could see how dark-looking it was and it appeared stockier than a kestrel. I drove the car a little further down the road and turned around to get a frontal view. Such beautiful bird.
The MERLIN did not stick around long, flying off north across the field. Maybe the presence of this bird is why I did not find any Horned Larks along Seed Road.
Heading for home, I noticed that the owl was still sitting high atop that tree.