Saturday, February 22, 2014

Snowy Owl at West Island in Fairhaven, MA (Video)

On my third try, I finally got to see one of the snowy owls spending the winter in southeastern New England.

Speculation is that more owls than usual are showing up in the U.S. this winter after an Arctic lemming population boom meant more snowy owl juveniles than usual survived and thrived enough to make the migration.

A snowstorm turned me away from Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Westport last weekend, and I went home empty-camera'd after a cold, windy Presidents Day walk on Fairhaven's West Island.

But on Saturday I got to West Island just after sunrise and finally saw this snowy owl. Raptors are great for bird watching because when not nesting they're fairly indifferent to people - I was able to walk right up to the tree where the owl was perched (good luck walking up to a jittery songbird). It did seem mildly annoyed when I made noise, kind of like, "Do you mind? I'm hunting here."

One more photo from when I first arrived at West Island. As I walked up from the beach and looked across the salt marsh, I spotted this coyote in the distance running towards the woods. It must've seen, heard, or smelled me well before I saw it, and by the time I got my camera out he was a quarter of a mile away. But it stopped every 100 yards or so and shot a look back at me like "thanks for ruining my morning, jerk":

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