Update: General consensus among my bird-watching friends who have reviewed the pictures and assessed the plumage is that this owl is probably a “she” and not a “he” as was originally written. I concur and add that this owl was larger than I was expecting, having seen other male snow owls, which adds credence to the theory that this is a female and not an immature male. I have therefore modified the description accordingly.
I’m a little giddy about the owl.
Let me back up a step. The day before yesterday, a friend mentioned that she had seen three snowy owls in Pippy Park (thanks, Margaret O’Dea!). This morning, I decided that an owl hunting expotition was in order and so we (we= me, John, Katherine & my sister, Tamar) packed up and headed to Pippy Park.
We found the trail, headed up towards Three Pond Barrens and used our GPSrs and the waypoints for a couple of geocaches (of which we found neither, but only actually looked for one) to keep us heading in more or less the right direction.
John told me that he didn’t expect us to find an owl. After all, we had just failed to locate a geocache. I maintain it’s buried under the two feet of snow in the area, but for some reason he just didn’t want to excavate every larch tree in Pippy Park. In any event, he voiced serious doubts about the likelihood of our Quest to have success. To which I responded, “This day does not end until I found an owl.”
Then I turned around and said, “Hey, isn’t that an owl?”
This might help:
She let us get a bit closer. This is with my 200mm zoom lens at full extension. The mist made everything grainier.
Then she took off. I think we must have spooked her as we made our way around the pond. I managed a few shots as she flew:
Then she landed out in the middle of the pond and stood there for the longest time, watching us.
As we wandered around Big Pond, she kept swiveling her head to watch us, occasionally checking the other shores for movement as well. With the naked eye, I couldn’t see more than a white lump on the ice, but the zoom lens gave me more detail.
Then she took off again and soared around, landing on the far shore.
I particularly love this shot, where her wing tip just brushes the ice…..
We slogged around up to our hips in rotten snow (that’s snow that has warmed up and sometimes melted underneath, in case you don’t live where such terms are common). There were numerous spontaneous discoveries of the big rocks and water beneath the snow and we emerged rather sodden, but very happy.
A perfect way to spend part of the long weekend!