I had high hopes leaving the Easthopes this morning. Kevin and I had planned to meet Williams Lake birder extraordinaire Phil Ranson at the local Tim Hortons at 10am-- because we were hunting hawk-owls! We piled into Phil's van and headed out on the Horsefly Road where Phil knew about 6 good hawk-owl locations! Before coming up Phil had told me they were pretty much a gimme but we started to worry a bit when the first 2 locations fell through. The wind was fairly strong and we were beginning to worry that the owls would be hunkered down. But not giving up yet, Phil said "on to spot #3" and after a bit of slow cruising with eyes peeled along a back road I spotted an odd-looking lump in the crotch of a snag. "That's a hawk-owl!" Phil exclaimed. Trying to keep my emotions on the inside until we could approach it from a different angle and confirm its identity, it was with great relief that I watched him in the bins as he scanned a snowy farmyard for rodents. Since the bird didn't seem to care much about our presence, I got out of the vehicle and started snapping record shots. The bird apparently spotted movement and flew futher away to a low perch (and once again with his back to us!). Although I was elated at finding this bird I was secretly hoping that he(or she) would at least show us his face! And my wishes came true and more! After changing to a far-off perch, he flew right at us and landed on the wire above the car! I got a series of great pictures as I stood below him and even got a shot of him horking up a pellet (photo included)!!! Then he moved again to a low branch and this time he let me get within 7 feet, apparently not concerned at all with my presence since he never looked directly at me! These and others are certainly some of the best shots I've acheived with this new point n' shoot (autofocus-only) camera so far!!!