First snow day of 2020 - Alexander Becker

First snow day of 2020

Published: 01/19/2020

Well, it finally happened....we had our first (real) snow of 2020 winter. More-so, it's actually finally cold!! Last weekend we had mid 60s and while shorts and t-shirts are great...it's not what we want in the winter. So when it finally dropped down to low 20's and started to snow, it was off to the local parks for me. Driving over as the snow fell my mind wandered to what I'll see -- owls perched as snow falls around them, harriers in flight banking in the snow, maybe a red fox hunting in the fields?? 

Yet, an hour in, I had seen...basically nothing. In fact, the first image I took was of the very elusive gray squirrel, as imaged below.


All sarcasm aside, I actually really like this image. Although squirrels are obviously common and frequently seen, getting a good image of one is a different game. I was happy to get one on a nice tree perch giving a good pose. The varied snow background adds for me, and the curved tail makes the image in the end.

Spoiler alert: there were no perched owls, no foxes hunting, and minimal harrier action. I'm not sure if this winter is just a bust or if it's too warm or what, but activity is really poor this year. Even the birds we have, ~5 harriers by my count: 1 male, 1 female, and 3 juvis (at minimum), are very inactive. I spent about six hours out today and only had a couple sightings in total. Usually on a snow day like this I will have a ton of sightings and a ton of close passes. But, this winter, I just got one pass, albeit from a female which I've not previously imaged. I was happy to get these two relatively straightforward images between two snow storms. Even though this isn't a really high stakes image for me, there is an example of why having a kit you know well and trust is valuable. If I hadn't gotten these images, well, there wouldn't be a post right now :).

And a couple of seconds later...

A merlin was hunting in the fields but quite far. At one point the bird did perch for a bit during the peak for the snow storm, giving a small in frame opportunity. There is basically no detail on the bird given I was shooting through some pretty packed snow (as you can readily see!), but I overall liked the feel of this frame.

Overall, it's still great to get out to the local parks on days like this when it's relatively quite and you have the possibility of more unique images, but it doesn't always work out and that's fine. I got to test out some new winter gear and I'm very pleased on that front, so that is a win. In the end, I walked 7 miles across 17,000 steps -- pretty good for winter boots & snow pants & many layers! In the end, my favorite image of the day wasn't a harrier or merlin, but rather the first squirrel I saw. If you had told me I would walk 7 miles to get a squirrel image I would probably tell you to go somewhere significantly warmer than it was today, but hey, that's just how it goes sometimes :).

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