What a difference a twelve months makes. Last year when there were no Snowy owls on Boundary Bay Dyke, a few walkers, hunters and the occasional photographer were the only signs of life. The owls appear every four years when a food shortage (lemmings) in the tundra forces them south. Since Christmas, thousands of visitors some from as far way as California, Japan and England have converged on the area to observe the owls. The biggest problem has been finding a parking spot! News of the owl's arrival has spread, I even met a couple from Southampton in the U.K. who had flown over for two weeks birding. The owls were top of their list. They were thrilled when I pointed out a Meadowlark, a bird they had never seen.
Some days, as many as 200 people can be seen checking out the migration. The mostly juvenile owls spend most of the daylight hours resting and preening and do not seem too bothered by all the attention. To capture them in flight head for the dyke at dawn or you'll spend hours waiting for them to move. Sometimes a photographer gets too close and one will fly away toward the shore and out of range but occasionally close enough to get a decent flight shot.
Note: The owls can also be seen at Brunswick Point where there is less pressure on them but are farther out in the bay.
See below some of the images I have captured of other birds while waiting for the owls to take flight.
All images© John Gordon Photography
|Snowy Owl hunting/Boundary Bay|
|Snow Bunting/Boundary Bay|
|Short-eared owls/Boundary Bay|
|Northern harrier/Boundary Bay|