New England Blogs

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Snowy Owl Continued

Sorry for the abrupt ending of my last post. I got hit really hard with this virus. Has anyone seen the Mac Truck that has run over me????? :-) I got up at 2:30 this afternoon. Not how I was planning on spending my weekend, but thank goodness I'm feeling better now.
So, let's go back to yesterday morning, shall we? Diane, our friend Leah, and my cousin Betty went to Duxbury early in the am. Our quest: find a snowy owl!!! Snowy owls live in the arctic circle, and in the winter, sometimes migrate down to Eastern US. Owls like airports, because the wide open space at the airports reminds them of the arctic tundra. This poses a threat to both the owls and the aircraft. Norman Smith, director of the Mass Audobon's Blue Hills Trailside Museum, has the snowy owl prject going. See here:  So, as you see, he moves the owls to Duxbury Beach where it is safer.
So, we arrived at Duxbury Beach just in time for sunrise. It was a beautiful sunrise!!!

I was thrilled to get such a beautiful sunrise. I had promised you some good pictures this weekend, so at least I knew I had a decent sunrise to share. For one thing, I wasn't sure if we would even find an owl, and for another thing, I wasn't experienced with the lens that I had rented. There is a learning curve. Diane and I spoke about the learning curve with this lens on the drive. Shooting with such a long lens requires practice, and any error is magnified. Any camera shake or movement will effect the image quality.
The weather: The weather was INSANE. I mean insane in a good way. This was January 7th?????? Temps were in the 50's, there was NO WIND. No wind at the beach in January???? Come on......insane!!!!  It was a perfect day in every way. We were blessed, and we knew it. What an amazing morning we had.
So, after we shot the sunrise, we got back in my vehicle, and started the drive out along the peninsula in search of the snowy owls. An over the sand permit is required to drive out there, but we were misinformed, and were told that "they don't patrol that area in the winter, so you can just drive out there." So, we were about a mile or two in, when we were approached by the HarborMaster in his 4 wheel drive pick up truck who informed us we needed to turn around. Turn around? Are you kidding me?
So, back we went to the parking area where I shamelessly was trying to get us a drive back in. Our Harbormaster "friend" came along......I offered him 20 bucks for a ride out there in the back of his pickup, and he refused my offer.........even after I told him I was the mother of a Police Officer!!!! :-)
OMG....the laughs we had. I also solicited myself to a boy in a pick up truck who couldn't have been more than 16 yrs old. I think I frightened him.........
So, off we went using our legs, lugging our gear.......until we came across a vehicle along the road  where we met our saviors!!!! I stopped their vehicle and asked if they had seen any photographers gathered or any owls out there. They said yes!!! I asked how far......he said a few more miles back........I offered him 20 dollars if they would turn around and drive us in.......he said get in the car, but I won't take your money. :-)I was just afraid by the time we got there if we walked that the owl would be gone. Who knew if we would ever see one! Our saviors!!!!! LOL........His name was Ed and we forget her name, but they were soooooo kind. They drove us in and dropped us off at the spot where the owl was sitting perched on the post. A Peregrine Falcon was there as well, but as soon as we got out of the vehicle, the Falcon took off, and we never saw it again.
The owl was at least 500 feet or more away from us. There was no way we were going to get any decent shots with the equipment we had. The 300 mm lens I rented was not going to give us enough reach. We would have needed at least a 500 mm lens with a teleconverter. We were informed by a young boy and his Dad who were photographing as well that this was probably a female owl because of the markings. Her back was towards us the whole time, but occasionally she would turn her head towards us.....especially if she heard any noise such as any approaching wildlife. Her head could rotate 360 degrees, so in my shots when you see her face, you are actually looking at her from behind, but her head is rotated all the way to her back. Pretty cool!!!!!

We spent a long time out there with her. She never once got off her perch. We had a long walk back to the car, but it was a pleasure. As I stated, the weather couldn't have been any better!!!

What a morning!!!! What an awesome adventure!!!! What a lot of laughs we had along the way!!!! I have had a few photography "goals". My first goal was to photograph a Bald Eagle.
Got a Bald Eagle in Bar Harbor 2 years ago.
My next goal was to photograph or at least "see" an owl in the wild.
Got the owl yesterday.
What will my third wildlife photography goal be? Beside the elusive bull moose in a picturesque pond lifting his head out of the water, with pond grass hanging off his antlers, water dripping off his beard, as he's looking straight into the lens of my camera...........I would have to say my goal would be to invest in the gear that I would need to accomplish these goals in a better way. It will take a lot of saving so it won't be coming anytime soon, but it is a goal that some day I hope to reach. In the meantime, I am happy with the memories and the thrill of just seeing such beautiful creatures. I feel blessed for sure!
PS....a special thank you to Ed and his wife for so generously giving us a ride. :-)


  1. Too funny. What an awesome day you had. Great pictures. And trying to "solicit" a young thing???? My my.

  2. Yes KB, I'm shameless. :-) OMG....we laughed and laughed.

  3. Carol, you are a HOOT!

    Good for you -- great pics!