After watching a Barn owl hunt across the long grass marsh flats at Boundary Bay through dusk in mid-March, I was packing up when I saw a Snowy owl perched on a log. It was about 100 yards away but the white oval shape stood out distinctively against the blues and blacks of evening.
I worked my way along the levee towards the bird and it just stared at me as I stopped about 50 feet away. We stared at one another for a minute and then the owl whipped its head around and cocked it towards some sound or motion I was oblivious to. It didn’t attack and went back to looking around for a while. A few minutes later, it launched onto another large piece of driftwood which was closer to the ground.
From there, the snowy stalked along the wood and ended up jumping into the grass at one point. It stayed in the grass for a little bit but I didn’t see whether it was successful in catching something or not.
The bay was dark by this time and I left the owl as it flew to another perch nearby. I had a few great encounters in Boundary Bay – I’m already excited to go back soon.
I hung out with a Snowy owl for quite a while the other afternoon. I settled in a little ways off from the telephone pole that was serving as the scouting perch with the hopes of a dive down into the snow for a field mouse caught unaware below.
That didn’t happen but I enjoyed watching this beautiful, heavily barred owl as it scanned its surroundings. I never think it’s a waste of time to spend time with wild creatures and get to learn a bit more about their ways.
I have been able to spend a couple of evenings with the two Snowy Owls since my first encounter with them near the Springbank Airport just before New Year’s. These are a few of the images that have stood out from the growing collection. I absolutely love watching these birds and with more time I’m learning some of their habits and behaviours.
The images below are from a drive I made east of Calgary on the weekend. I had good luck finding Snowies around Langdon and Gleichen last year and the success continued when I spotted this beautiful owl flying around one of the fields.
Leaving the south edge of Calgary this morning, the snow was flying and there was fog growing denser as we went further east. My friend Jeff and I were driving on 22X heading towards the Siksika Nation to see if we could find any snowy owls along the range roads in the prairie outside of Calgary. We made a straight line to an abandoned barn on the edge of the Siksika land that a local there had told me was a favourite location for a snowy year after year. I’ve been there a couple of times this year but have yet to see the owl but it’s a great drive down toward the river. Tracing fresh tracks in the snow-covered gravel roads, we carved a wide rectangle around the outer edges of Namaka Lake searching. Along the way, the fog lifted, the sky brightened and the snow settled right down. Just over two hours in and we hadn’t seen any wildlife following the herd with the exception of a couple of magpies and one acrobatic raven.
And then, once pointed west and heading back towards Calgary, we spotted a snowy along the same back road where I photographed one a few weeks ago. It seems to be the same female but I’m not an owl expert so they may only be similar. Either way, it was fantastic to find this one. And she was a wonderful partner to make a few images with. She watched us for a few minutes and then flew off to another telephone pole. Dutifully, we followed, parked a little ways away and then stepped closer. She flew again after a few more minutes. We followed to a third pole and a fourth. The last leap into the air carried her across the field to a distant perch where she could continue her day without further interruption. Along the way, we both rattled off a bunch of images and had a lot of fun.
Just a great morning and I’m really happy Jeff was able to see and photograph a snowy owl in the wild.
After photographing sunrise on Namaka Lake in the Siksika Reserve east of Calgary, I toured the nearby back roads for wildlife. I found a few mule deer standing in tall grass and a couple of charismatic old barns but my subject of desire was the snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus). There is a healthy population of these owls between Calgary and Brooks. Photographing these wonderful raptors has been on my list for a couple of winters now but yesterday was the first trip into the prairie east of Calgary dedicated to the purpose. The first owl I found was a telephone pole hopper so we traveled together from pole to pole for half an hour before it flew up into a stand of trees (as above) and then on to the open fields.
I saw two more snowy owls while working my way back home on Highway 22X. The first was flighty and I only photographed it flying away from me over the fields.
The last owl of the day I saw just before 11 am. It stared me down from its perch on a fence post and then took off, flying low along the ditch before disappearing behind a small hill. I will be back in the next couple of weeks and try to get one of these beautiful birds to fly towards me.