Birds, hawks and tracks in SNP

February 5, 2009

I’ve been trying to figure out for a while how to best recap my past few outings… and I think I’ve settled on breaking them up into a few posts. So, here goes!

On January 22, I cruised down Skyline Drive in pursuit of… whatever could be found in the dead of winter. It’s been typical on my past few trips to find a variety of sparrow-sized birds, deer and squirrels. Beyond that, it’s been pretty mundane.

While I headed north something caught my eye, and it didn’t take long to realize it was a hawk flying overhead. A bird in flight, seen from a moving vehicle, is almost impossible to set up in time photography-wise, but I still gave it a shot. I veered off to the side of the road and hopped out. Taking aim, I realized it was already a lost cause. The short delay of stopping and prepping the image gave the bird enough time to become just a speck in my viewfinder.

Winding further north I came to my old faithful, Limberlost, and hit the trail. Snow was present along the path and once again, I found plentiful bobcat tracks in the area. Finding the animal itself proved less successful.

On the return drive south, I found three barred owls in three different sections of the Drive. Shortly before sunset, I’ve had luck finding them perched along branches beside the road eyeing the grasses below, presumably for a meal. In each of those three sightings, I was able to set up a few shots, but didn’t have anything that really wowed me.

As I approached Hazeltop Ridge Overlook, I noticed a strange silhouette atop a tree and quickly determined it to be another red-tailed hawk. As perfect as the pose and setting were, I couldn’t overcome the fact that he was backlit and my lens wasn’t powerful enough at 200mm. Attempting to overcome those problems, I began to cut through a field at an angle which would allow some side-lighting of the hawk. When I was almost in position, the hawk decided it didn’t want to play along and flew directly across the field into some dense forest.

Thus ended my day of sightings and lack of images. Total viewing: Tons of deer, 3 owls, 2 hawks and bobcat tracks.

2 Responses to “Birds, hawks and tracks in SNP”

  1. Jim T Says:


    Great to hear about your winter adventures in the Park. What’s the secret to finding the owls? Since I learned about them from you I have kept an eye up in the trees but we have yet to spot one.


  2. […] I made repeated visits to the same area and sometimes saw more tracks, I was never able to locate the source of the tracks […]

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