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Click for moreJan 19, 2013 - Barred Owl in Guelph

Today I had a nice and also lucky outing at Guelph Aboretum. I've read reports the past few weeks about a Barred Owl being spotted in the area and after failing to locate one in another park after at least 5 visits, I thought I'd try Guelph today.

A number of birder/photographers were walking around aimlessly, none of us sure where to look. We had faith it was here though, so the looking continued.

I had the good fortune to run into a few people. One dog-walker steered me to the rough area he thought I should look. There, I met up with another photographer, and we agreed to split up and try different areas, I told him I'd whistle if I found anything.

Eventually, this gent located me and said "I found it", and we went to see. The owl wasn't where he thought it had been, but eventually we found it, and watched with fascination.

Within about 1/2 hour, we were treated to a show as the Barred Owl hunted for and caught a mouse. He ate it whole, and all the while we watched and snapped shots.

Thanks to the gent "Grenfell" that helped me out, I had walked a large portion of the wild lands, and in the end the Owl was near where I parked, which is perhaps not unexpected :)

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Click for moreJan 13, 2013 - Mountsberg Conservation Area

Today with the unseasonable 10 degree temperature, a trip was needed to take advantage of the weather. Mountsberg Conservation Area in Halton was the destination, the target was birds of prey.

Shortly after arriving, we ran into one of the staff taking a gorgeous Gyrfalcon for a training session with people in the outdoors. This afforded us an opportunity to get to meet this gorgeous bird, talk to the staff member about her, and of course take some portraits.

After seeing the Gyrfalcon, we headed over to the other birds of prey pens, where there's Snowy Owls, Barn Owls, Bald Eagles and the most impressive Eagle I've ever seen, a gorgeous female Golden Eagle. She was so big it was unbelievable, and seeing her beside the Bald Eagles really put this fact into perspective.

Mountsberg staff also held an educational session featuring one of their Kestrels, and a Great Horned Owl.

As usual, this venue didn't cease to amaze me. It was a great experience to be able to talk with the staff members, learn about the birds, see them so closely, and of course to take photos. A great outing indeed!

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Click for moreJan 7, 2013 - Humber Aboretum - luck after many visits

Last weekend, I had a few excellent trips to the Humber Aboretum. I've somehow never ended up there during the spring or summer and I definitely plan on it this coming spring, but I do manage to go during the winter.

The past few visits to the aboretum, I've seen a wide range of smaller birds including Redpolls, Goldfinches, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, a few other woodpeckers, nuthatches, and even a group of about 6 deer.

On this pair of visits, I had the good fortune of finally catching a Screech Owl before he had a chance to hide from me (he was sleeping), which was cool. I had been at least 5 times looking for him and on this day got lucky. The screech owl in the included photos is the grey feathery thing that blends well with the tree texture.

One even more awesome sighting for me is a first in my life, seeing a Saw-Whet owl. He was perched in a tree about 7 feet high, and didn't mind me at all. I snapped shots and enjoyed seeing this little guy, then left him to get back to his snoozing.

After seeing him I researched a bit and found out this small owl feeds on deer mice, and so it made sense he'd be where he was since there are many deer there.

Enjoy the photos and if you want to go for a nice hike in the Greater Toronto area I'd recommend this spot any time.

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