I finally saw a great gray owl.
It happened on Sunday at dusk. I left the Wannabe Ranch in West Duluth at 4:15 p.m., specifically in hopes of finding owls. After a brief detour on Railroad Street — I had to check out a surveillance camera that at first glance looked suspiciously like a snow owl — I drove up and down North Shore Scenic Drive between Duluth and Two Harbors. That seems to have been the prime spot for boreal and great gray owls. I was especially looking for birders with spotting scopes, figuring my best hope of seeing an owl would be spotting one that someone else had seen first.
That didn’t happen, although I did join a couple of other people in taking pictures of a beautiful sunset from Stoney Point.
I was almost back to Duluth — in the Brighton Beach area — when I glimpsed a large owl on a bare tree on the left side of the road.
I watched it on that tree and then on another tree on the right side of the road. Even standing directly under it, I couldn’t get a good picture. The only one I got looks more like abstract art than an owl.
But I got a great view through my binoculars. As it turned its head, those yellow eyes seemed to look right at me.
A woman pulled up.
“Do you know what kind of owl that is?” she asked.
“I’m pretty sure it’s a great gray,” I said.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “I’m going to try to get a picture.”
I moved along so she could have her turn.
Lots of people in the Northland have seen great gray owls, most without really trying to see them. But I had been looking for years without success.
Finally seeing that magnificent bird was one of my sweetest moments in birding so far.
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