There were a few reasons why I needed/wanted to get out for a drive today. I am wondering if the fact that I have had house mice is having an ill effect on my health. I have spent so much time the last few weeks, trying to declutter and get rid of a lot of stuff, and I’m not sure if I have disturbed the mouse spray and been breathing it in. You can’t vacuum when you’ve had mice, so I haven’t been doing that, but you still disturb things when sorting and moving belongings. I always have a cough – for years, and they couldn’t find out the cause – but it has been worse recently. Anyway, I thought I would get out into the fresh air for a few hours today. Also, the forecast was for clouds and I thought this might be easier to drive in. The sun recently has been so glaringly bright and it affects my eyes. Note to self – must get my eyes checked sometime this year!
So, on this cloudy, low-light day, I made my way east of the city, hoping to maybe see an owl of some sort. I quickly checked to see if any Short-eared Owls were to be seen, though I knew it was probably too early in the day for them to be out. No sign of one at all. Time to drive a few back roads in case there was a Snowy Owl in sight. Some of the roads I travelled were ones that I hadn’t driven before, which was good for me. Though I have been east of the city many times over the years, I have still only driven a few of the roads myself. I was fortunate to find two Snowy Owls; first a beautiful, streaked female, and then on a different road, a handsome male who flew off when I was still half a mile down the road.
There was still time to go back to look for a Short-eared Owl and this time, there were several of them. Most of the time, they were either flying far away or landing in the middle of a huge field. However, at the end, one did land on a post and stayed there for quite some time. Awkward to photograph, though, when there are other cars and photographers. I couldn’t see anything at first, as there were two cars in front of me. In the end, I got out of my car and carefully stood between the two vehicles – couldn’t see well around the first car and couldn’t move out any further otherwise I would have blocked a friend’s long lens behind me. I suspected that my photos were blurry because of the front car and for my last few photos, I moved around and stood away from the heat rising from the vehicle. That made a difference – now I have several somewhat sharper images, and an awful lot of blurry shots to delete. Sigh ….
A young relative of one of the landowners came across the field and I had quite a long, interesting talk with him. He wondered what all the cars in the area were doing and I explained about the owls and that we were all birders/photographers. He said his grandmother was so worried and stressed out – quite afraid. I told him that I am always concerned when photographers do this, as I know it must make some landowners nervous (understandably, with the crime rate in rural areas), and told him to please apologize to his grandma, and to also reassure her that we are all good, harmless people, interested only in trying to get photos of the owls.
Another reason to get out today was that we are about to have a drastic change in our weather! For wekks now, we have been enjoying much milder winter weather, but on Sunday, 3 February, the forecast is for a high of -22C (windchill -31C). A high of -24C for Monday.