What a fabulous week that Kristie and I had in New England on our great Snowy Owl adventure! Many thanks to John Slonina for showing us all the great spots, and some fine Yankee hospitality! Many thanks to Nikhil Bahl for connecting me to John!
Of the 12 owls we saw over a week, 2 were exceptionally friendly and made the entire trip quite worthwhile. The Salisbury, Mass male put on a great show, especially on the one day that it snowed hard all morning. We watched him catch 5 voles in about an hour, including one poor little fellow that was swimming for high ground with the tide coming in. The owl plucked him out of the water osprey-fashion and then beheaded him…. just remember when you think that you are having a bad day!
The lovely female Snowy from Rye, New Hampshire, really stole the show! She usually perched on various cottages, with an adoring crowd gathered below. The afternoon of the snow storm it cleared up a bit but the winds were howling and I watched her fly from a rooftop to the beach area. It took 2 people to eventually find where she had landed… on a rock next to another bigger rock serving as a wind break so she could preserve a bit more energy in the sub-zero temperatures. Several of her admirers saw me photographing and visited for a while but none could take the frigid cold for too long. I stayed until sunset, over 3 hours in all in wickedly cold weather, and I needed all 6 layers of clothing (including three winter coats!) to keep me from freezing to death. There were times when I pressed the shutter release and nothing happened because I couldn’t feel my hands any longer.
I moved in closer and closer, and even got a head shot from 20 feet away. The Snowy never flinched for a moment, and gave me one of the top 10 bird shoots of my life. I left her there with frozen tears on my face, as I knew that this God’s compelling answer to a prayer seeded in my childhood when my fascination with birds of prey started while watching nature shows with my dad. What a blessing that Snowy Owls rained down on us in the lower 48 all winter long, and so many people had magical moments like these, experiencing our Creator God through the piercing yellow orbs of a giant white fluffy owl sent all the way from the Arctic.