_B5A9153, snowy owl

My Permanent Prairie Psafari

Could it be that a safari isn’t just an adventure but a state of being?

I like to think of a safari as driving around in a sweetly decked out four-wheel drive with ridiculously expensive camera gear peering out of port holes like automatic rifles. Every few minutes the vehicle stops to the sound of shutters firing as an exotic African predator takes down an exotic African prey. What wildlife photographer wouldn’t want to live in that paradise? Unless of course it got too hot during the day.

Then it occurred to me that I’m on my own permanent prairie psafari (on the prairies the p is semi-silent). That sounds a lot better than driving around aimlessly on grid roads accidentally scaring all the wildlife in the area code. The time between photo ops may be a bit longer but psafari it is! Suddenly it all sounds so much more exciting. And I’ve been here all along.

_B5A8967, snowy owl,

Often closer is better when it comes to wildlife photography but there’s something about the composition of this photo that caught my eye – not to mention the oddity of not exactly blending in with the neighbourhood. Two days later the snow came.

One of the special features of my prairie psafari is how each season brings unique creatures. My goodness this is beginning to sound legit.

Sandhill season is one of my favourites. It marks the end of summer heat, bringing fabulous colour, harvest scenes and seemingly unending sunsets. This year I saw sandhill cranes every single time I went looking. Now that’s an unmatched success rate on any continent. After bagging hundreds of shots, I was really hoping to catch a few in the snow but they must have sensed it coming. Not to worry – they will be back next year like our favourite sports team.

The next season is one of my favourites – snowy owl season. This season officially starts when I see a snowy owl. And in case there was any doubt, this really is all about me.

Last year it got off to quite the late start in March. But this year, Christmas and the snowy season came early when I got my gift-wrapped snowy owl before we even got a decent snowfall. How cool is that!

The next season is truly one of my favourites – bear season. I have to drive some distance to find the bears but that’s part of the prairie way. A century ago they roamed a lot closer but I was born too late. Watching those well-muscled creatures lumbering along in search of food might be a fatal attraction. But what a way to go!

And then there’s another favourite – hawk season. My heart still skips a beat watching them soar above the prairie, screaming at the sunset and lower forms of life like me that are stuck on the ground. My heart skipped a couple of more beats when I saw one flying right at me this year but unfortunately It didn’t happen again so I couldn’t photograph it.

In case you’re keeping score (and I always do), that makes 2.5 seasons of predators – more than respectable by my standards.

Oh yes, and we get a bunch of different weather during all these wildlife seasons and not all of it is hot. Time to shovel the snow off the driveway, start my Jeep and head out on another prairie psafari. It truly is a wonderful state of being.

_B5A9018, snowy owl

That icy stare is just mesmerizing.


Latest Comments

  1. ronaldpoels says:

    Beautiful pictures of this fantastic Owl.


  2. MJF Images says:

    Great shots of the snowy Lyle!


  3. Mike Powell says:

    No matter what season it is, I never cease to be amazed by your photos. I’ve never seen a Snowy Owl (and in fact have seen only one owl in the wild as it was flying away), but it’s easy to see how special they are. My own experience with photographing white birds makes me really appreciate how well you were able to expose your shots, in addition to the usual challenges of composition. Of course, you’re so used to having a lot of snow that maybe it’s a little more instinctive for you to photograph white objects. I like the idea of your psafari, though I’d have to get a four-wheel drive vehicle and drive out of my familiar suburban environs to have a similar experience.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Any owls are amazing but the snowy owl is special. You are right, the white feathers are a challenge and keep me watching the histogram. I’m not sure if having snow around helps but the white and black creatures continue to be ones that are the most difficult to get right.

      I think you do amazingly well with your psafari in your park! No need for a vehicle there.


  4. dda53 says:

    Love the first image showing the entire bail of hay with the snowy on top. That’s a fine image, good work!


  5. hannele says:

    It’s great to realize the wonderful things one already has. A psafari it is; even better than a safari, since there are no other tourists!

    Also, what a marvellous bird.


  6. Charissa says:

    I can relate! I did my first African safari this summer, and it was amazing, but nothing will ever compare to the first time I actually found an owl after looking for weeks in my local forest.


  7. Dalo 2013 says:

    Another great shot ~ such a majestic looking bird.


  8. westerner54 says:

    Way to semi-alliterate! Better than that, though: way to embrace life. I appreciate the reminder that every season has its wonders.


  9. Mind Margins/Toasty Strings/Run Nature says:

    I’m pretty sure we don’t have any snowy owls down our way, and certainly no bears or sandhill cranes (why do I live here again???), but we do have a 12 month hawk season! Guess I’ll have to live vicariously through your psafaris. Great photos, as always!


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I’m happy to do the vicarious thing for you and pleased that you enjoy it! Pursuing wildlife photography has really opened my eyes to the creatures hidden in plain sight around here. The funny thing is I actually didn’t know we had snowy owls until a few years ago and I’m pretty sure I just assumed the sandhill cranes in the field were geese for many years. It makes me wonder what else I’m missing now …

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Phil Lanoue says:

    Wow! Absolutely outstanding!


  11. donna213 says:

    Your Psafari should catch on. I do like your owl photos very much. The first one flying low is my favorite. I hope they come here again this year. They have been spotted in our area already. It seems like something has changed to bring them here.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      When I did some reading on it last year, I discovered that the more food they have in the Arctic, the further afield they go in winter. Hopefully they come for a visit so you can say hi.

      That first one is my favourite too.


  12. Gunta says:

    I’m not so picky. I’ll take ANY kind of owl. Don’t see them much at the beach. 😉


  13. Steve Gingold says:

    Great post and a nice way to look at shooting near home….or not too far away. That is my kind of safari….one camera-no waiting.

    Nice collection of Snowy shots. We get them around here too, but I’ve not seen any in a while. There have been reports of another irruption heading south into New England, so it may happen for me this year. There are a few very popular spots near the coast for viewing Snowies, but too many people go there. We also get the occasional Great Grey too.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I am a huge fan of the no waiting but alas I didn’t even trip the shutter today. That’s why I savour the special encounters I guess.

      Hopefully there’s some snowy owls winging their way to your area as we speak. There are such unique creatures but then I think that about all the owls.


  14. The Earth Beneath My Feet says:

    Beautiful owls, thanks for sharing!


  15. My Heartsong says:

    Wonderful! I am going to “hang out” with the birders and hopefully spot one this season.


  16. Alison and Matt says:

    You make Saskatoon sound like so much fun! Where can we sign up for one of your psafaris? Love the shots and humor, as always! 🙂


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Look at that. A few photos, a few words and the psafari is already filling up! Glad you enjoyed the post. I was wondering if I had stretched the humour beyond recognition in in this one.


  17. Lavinia Ross says:

    Beautiful Snowy Owl photos, Lyle! That owl on the wing looks like he is smiling and giving you a wink!

    We have a Great Horned Owl that visits our back lot from time to time.


  18. Dan Traun says:

    “sweetly decked out four-wheel drive with ridiculously expensive camera gear peering out of port holes like automatic rifles” – I like the way you think. Great photos of snowys. I haven’t seen any yet this year, but I spent a fair amount of time with one last year. It was magic.


  19. Anonymous says:

    Very well put once again Lyle! I couldn’t agree more! In fact I would not trade an African photo shoot over a Prairie one! Although I probably stand alone on that one!! A camera, four wheel drive ,and a travel mug of fresh coffee are a few of my favourite things!


  20. anotherday2paradise says:

    Fabulous shot, Lyle, and thanks for the close-up. 🙂


  21. Kerry Statham says:

    Great images Lyle… Haven’t been out looking around here yet but they are being seen.


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