Sax Zim Bog 2024

I started photographing eagles and owls back in 2010.  Ever since I saw the guys on posting Great Gray Owls (GGO) on the forum they have been on my bucket list.  The closest place to photograph them is Sax Zim Bog in MN.  I never made it up there, and then we moved to Texas for 8 years.  After retiring and moving back to central Illinois, there was no excuses!  A good friend and great photographer invited me to share a room with him and it was on.  We planned to drive on Monday 1-1-24 and then chase owls Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and drive back South on Friday.  We stayed at Alesches Accommodations.  I was a little nervous about the place and sharing a bathroom.  I was super pleasantly surprised. What a great place.  It is an old converted bible camp.  There is a huge shared area and a full kitchen. Super clean and very homey.  Everybody staying there were photographers.  It was pretty cool to sit around the fire / table with 5 or 6 other photographers, while we all edited our “Photos of the Day” (POTD), sharing locations, and editing tips.  Now I need / want the Canon RF 600 f4 LS lens more than ever as my EF 500 is 12 years old and was super slow using it via an EF to RF converter.  I was disappointed in the new RF100-500mm I bought.  The f 7.1 killed me in the low gray light and ISO was at unacceptable levels (guess I am just spoiled).  Don’t get me wrong the 100-500 is a great lens and has a place in my bag, it just needs a ton more available light at 500mm. 

Bucket list for the trip, much in order:

  • Great Gray Owl
  • Norther Hawk Owl
  • Pine Martin
  • Ermine
  • Porcupine

Bonus subjects would have been:

  • Wolf
  • Moose
  • Bob Cat
  • Golden Eagle
  • Bigfoot

I was successfully able to get full frame photos of the first 4!  If I can afford to get the RF600mm I will go back.  For now, please enjoy these from the trip.  Introducing the 4 subjects.  More post with in flight series to follow as I get them edited.

Great Gray Owl (GGO): The largest of the owls in North America

Great Gray Owl GGO Great Gray Owl GGO

The true master of Camouflage!

Norther Hawk Owl (NHO): It is one of the few owls that is neither nocturnal nor crepuscular, being active only during the day, and is about the size of a crow and the only hawk that hunts from the air.

Northern Hawk Owl NHONorthern Hawk Owl NHO

Pine Marten: A carnivore, their body length can range up to 21” and tail length of 10”, and weigh 3 – 3.5 pounds.

Pine Marten Pine Marten

Short-tailed Weasel aka Ermine:  They are brown in the summer and turn white in winter.  Body length 5-7” with a 4-6” tail.  Stupid fast little guys

Ermine Ermine

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Life is good and I am blessed.




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