If you’re a photographer you know how you can ignore personal discomfort when a fantastic photo opportunity presents itself. Oppressive heat, swarming mosquitos, sand in the face, laying on rocks, intense cold all become background when shooting something cool. I was returning from South Dakota’s Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge through southeast North Dakota when I spotted something in the ditch. I pulled a U-turn and found this mellow Short-eared Owl. For me it was a very exciting find…I’ve only seen them from distance while floating over prairies in western Minnesota.

Since the owl was staring at me but not budging, I decided I could crawl closer. My feet were now soaked as there was water beneath the snow in the ditch. But I kept creeping closer.  I got close enough so I could fill the frame with the owl. Deciding not to further disturb the owl, I backed off. After getting back to the car I realized my feet were icy cold. The lesson: Always have an extra pair of dry socks in your camera bag!