I just spent a couple days at the Sax Zim Bog in late January, 2014, doing photography. Bruce asked me to give a report. Located NW of Duluth, MN, it is a favorite place for those doing bird photography, especially of Great Gray, Snowy, and Northern Hawk Owls. They also have feeders up to attract smaller birds such as the boreal chickadees and gray jays.
These are not tame birds, and it is a big area, so it is still not a sure thing. I got good photos of a Snowy Owl and a Northern Hawk Owl. I had three sightings of Great Grays, but that was rougher, since it was low light, and I was shooting fast with a high ISO.
Finding them is something you work on by yourself, but it is also helpful to find others who have stopped their cars because they are seeing something. It is like the Yellowstone bear jams, only not that bad. I really do appreciate other people’s eyes finding those owls.
It is pretty easy to get something of Snowy’s since once you find one they will hang out from a few perch places for hours. I had not seen a Snowy since the 50s, so I had a great time simply watching this beautiful bird for hours! They are so beautiful. Their hunting ability is incredible. They can spot a vole way in the distance, and go down there immediately and nail it! Same for the Hawk owl!
Great Grays I still am after. They are the largest of all owls. I photographed one once by the Claybanks in Iowa with slide film many years ago. It was exciting for me to actually see one again, and then to have three sightings! BUT I only got to see them in the low light of early morning and late evening.
Although many of the photo people used tripods, I usually used a bean bag on the window of my car.
The best way to find out about this place is to go to their web site. Even better than the web site by far, is to go to their Facebook account for regular updates. They have their big birding festival there February 14-16, 2014.
I found the best birding on the north end, just west of the corner of Zim Road and Highway 7, and then again for Greys on Admiral near the Admiral feeders.
If you go there in winter, note that Lake Superior shoreline is fun to photograph too!
A great web site to get all kinds of ideas and updates on the whole Duluth area including Sax Zim Bog is pro photographer Sparky at http://thephotonaturalist.com/
To find out what is going on in the bog, it is always a good idea to talk to someone with a big lens, and just ask. That is how I found the Hawk Owl, many miles away, on Owl Avenue. By the way, I talked to a professional guide there with his clients. They had all just been in Iowa at Lock and Dam 14 for eagle photos! He told me there were 1100 eagles at Lock and Dam 13, but #14 was the best for photos. Of course the North Iowa Photo Club knows that by now!
I have attended the Minneapolis Nature Photo Club that meets in REI and have appreciated contacts made there. But the North Iowa Photo Club website is extremely impressive compared to other web sites by photo clubs! I enjoy watching the Iowa Public Television videos Bruce posts as well. I keep in touch with your web site, and miss the super club you are there in Mason City!!! Keep welcoming one another, and have fun with your camera!
(Click the photos below to see a larger image)