I've been going to the Shawangunk Grasslands for the past 3 or 4 years and never seem to have much luck. Usually the short-eared owls will fly when the light is too dark and they usually stay very far away. Today though, things turned around for me and I had a wonderful experience.
When I first arrived at the grasslands, I saw the blind I wanted was already taken because the flag was up and so I took my 2nd favorite blind. I was there for roughly a half hour and I didn't see any human activity happening at my favorite blind, so I put my flag down and walked over. As I got close, I saw that there was indeed somebody sitting inside it, so I turned around and headed back to the blind I was originally in. On my way back, I ran into this lovely woman named Karen. We were walking and chatting and I invited her to join me at the blind. Moments after we got to the blind, the short-eared owls rose from the ground and started to fly around (while the light was still really good).
At one point I counted 5 of them in the air and it was so fun to watch them fly and interact with each other. They chased each other and yelled at each other. On occasion a Northern Harrier rose and mingled with them. They came relatively close to us a couple of times and also landed on a distant pole that was still relatively visible. At one point, one even caught a vole. Sadly though, when it took off with its meal it headed away from us and not towards us. The best moment was when one flew right over our heads. It was far too close for me to get any photos so I simply watched in awe. I was so in love with the moment and the close up view of such a stunning raptor.
As the light started to dim Karen's friend, Mary, approached the blind and hung out and walked back to the parking lot with us. It was an awesome day enjoying wildlife and meeting new people. I told Karen she was my good luck charm as this was by far the best opportunity I've ever had with the short-eared owls.
Chatting with the ladies on the walk back to the parking lot was really nice. We stopped several times to enjoy the beauty of the owls flying nearby and we saw the silhouette of one perched, looking out over the setting of the sun. At one point we had a flock of ducks fly towards us and over head. It was amusing as they sounded like a plane going over our heads.
Over the past 3 or 4 yrs I've been to the Grasslands at least 3 dozen times trying and hoping for some nice shots of the short-eared owls. Persistence (and my good luck charm) have finally paid off!
Thank you for following my blog, I hope you enjoy the beauty of this magnificent bird as much as I do!