Tuesday 4 December 2012

Snowy Owls (On Their Terms)

Dec 3 2012  Boundary Bay. Mostly cloudy, cold with a sunny breaks.
The weatherman, the newspapers, the radio all spoke of rain but as usual they were wrong. Tuesday was supposed to be the day for decorating the Christmas tree but I suppose there is always tomorrow.
As the first rays of sun came through the living room window I knew it was time to head out birding. I wasn't quite sure where I wanted to go, at first I thought I'd check out 112th for raptors but then decided to go to 64th but it turned out to be too windy and cold so I doubled back to 72nd. What had promised to be a warm sunny day quickly turned overcast and I was deliberating whether to return home. A quick visual scan turned up three snowy owls way out on the foreshore.

Two snowy owls jostle for position.

Recently there had been a number articles in the local press about not approaching the birds too closely as they are thought to be starving and have recently come down from the arctic due to a lack of food. The logic is that the owls are hungry and need to rest and being chased by photographers disturbs them.
On this particular day the photographers were on their best behaviour due to the high tide which kept everyone on the dyke and out of the marsh area. We needn't have worried, after an hour of waiting two owls flew within one hundred feet of about twenty or so onlookers including us photographers.
Not only did the owls graciously perform a fly-past but they also jousted for position on the only stump available to them, not once but twice before flying off to a distant perch to repeat the ritual (top pic).
Everyone had a good look at the birds, the photographers including myself were happy, birders didn't need bins and point and shooters were all smiles, all in all, a win for everyone including the owls.

Two snowy owls fight over a perch. I had my 1.4 converter  on which
proved a hindrance, cutting off the second owl and ruining a potentially great shot. 

                             This owl was shot on a full frame camera and was close enough to show quite a bit of detail.

A snowy poses for photographers.

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