I have been to the Sax-Zim Bog area northwest of Duluth, Minnesota several times. (You can use the search box on this site to search for Sax-Zim Bog to see previous posts.) On this trip I was fortunate enough to spend some time photographing an American Pine Marten, a ferocious predator, a member of the weasel family about 24-30" long. I also saw a white Ermine (Black-tailed Weasel). They run really fast and are hard to photograph. People flock to the bog area in the winter time to see Great Grey Owls, Northern Hawk Owls and Snowy Owls. I did get photos of one Great Grey late in the day a little after the sun went down, but I missed the other owls (they don't seem to let us know where and when they will be available for photos). I saw a nice Rough-legged Hawk sitting on the top of a tree and snapped a few photos just as it launched off the top. Some of the other birds I saw are below and identified in the captions. I didn't go to all of the feeder areas so I did miss some of the smaller winter birds, but over-all this was a good trip.
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There are a lot of different birds and wildlife to be found in the Sax-Zim Bog area in Northern Minnesota, you just need to spend some time driving around to find them. All photos were taken with the long telephoto lens from the car, except for the Northern Hawk Owl. I had to hike back in the the woods to get that one this time to get better lighting. But it was very high at the top of a very tall spruce tree looking and listening for voles under the snow. The Great Gray Owl and Pileated Woodpecker were both quick grab shots out the window and then they flew away. There are so many more birds and wildlife that I didn't get, but because of heavy snow I decided to head home early.
Click the pictures below to see larger in a slide show.
I started out the new year taking pictures of Pine Siskins and House Finches in the back yard, very distant photos of Snowy Owl near Ventura, IA, then headed up to Sax-Zim Bog northwest of Duluth, MN to try to get pictures of a Great Gray Owl. This was my second trip (see previous post from February of 2014). I was lucky this time and got pictures of two different Great Gray Owls on Admiral Road and McDavitt Road that were fairly cooperative in allowing several photographers and birders to get some pictures from a distance with telephoto lenses while the owls were searching for an easy meal. It was fun watching one owl swoop down and land on a mouse in the snow (wild mouse - not baited). It was a dark, cloudy, dreary day, with snow and sleet in the morning. Not my favorite kind of day for bird pictures - a little too dark, but I got a few photos. Others included Purple Finches, Common Redpolls, White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches, Gray Jays, Chickadees, a Barred Owl and many more. There were also several Red Squirrels. I did not get to see a Snowy Owl , nor a Northern Hawk-Owl which often frequent the area in the Winter, and apparently I just missed and Ermine. Maybe next time. There is no guarantee that you will see a Great Gray Owl if you go to the bog. It is a very larger area covering many square miles. Some people go to visit and never see an owl of any kind. Watch the Sax-Zim Bog Facebook page for recent reports. and drive around the likely areas many times. Early in the morning at sunrise and late in the afternoon at sunset are usually the better times, but it can vary day-to-day. Good luck if you decide to go. Be sure to stop at the visitor's center on Owl Avenue, where there are lots of opportunities to see and photograph smaller birds at the many feeders.
You can learn more about the bog and find maps here - http://sax-zimbog.com/
[Click the pictures below to see larger.] More Owl photos here...
Short Video of the Great Gray Owl (click below):
Friday, January 2, 2015, Admiral Road
Sunday I went to the Sax-Zim Bog area Northwest of Duluth, Minnesota to look for Great Gray Owls, Snowy Owls, Northern Hawk Owls and anything else that we might find with a foot of new snow on the ground. We found the Great Gray Owl perched high in a tree before sunrise in the twilight. It was on Admiral Road just north of the bird feeders. We got a few shots from the car until it flew a short distance away, and then we were able to get a few shots outside of the car just after sunrise until it disappeared in to the woods. We also found a Snowy Owl on Zim Road and Greenfield, but it was high in a tree and we did not get any good photos. We never found the Northern Hawk Owl. Very disappointing.
If you want to learn more about the Sax-Zim Bog area search on Google or Facebook. There are at least two Facebook sites dedicated to the bog and several web sites with maps and more info. We met people from all over the country who where there to look for birds. If you happen to find a Great Gray Owl locally let me know. I'd love to get some more photos of this majestic bird.
There are more Great Gray Owl photos here - click to view.