An afternoon with a Snowy owl

Snowy owl in flight - 2013 © Christopher Martin

With visions of the Boundary Bay owls still streaming past my mind’s eye, I went out for a drive on the Prairies this weekend.  I have been working on my Snowy owl imagery pretty steady this winter and have found a few images to be elusive to create.  For this trip east of Calgary, I was hoping to get some interactions showing a little personality as well as head on flight images.  It turned out to be a great afternoon for both.

Along the fenceline - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I went east on highway 22X and roamed a few of the range roads north of Carseland.  I found a hawk followed by an eagle in the first couple of miles.  I left the Bald eagle on its perch in a barren tree and zigzagged back towards the highway.

Eagle tree - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Well short of the main road, I found this Snowy owl perched on a fencepost a few hundred yards into the field.  I waited for 15 minutes and then the bird launched and flew in front of me along the fenceline and crossed the gravel.  I picked it up on a telephone pole nearby and that was its field base for the afternoon.

2013 © Christopher Martin

Over the next couple of hours, the owl dove off the beam several times and earned a few snacks along the grass and snow.  At launch and during its return flights to the perch, it gave me some wonderful opportunities as it would keep an eye on me now and then.

Leap - 2013 © Christopher Martin

During the long breaks between sorties, the owl sat largely motionless except for the full circles carved in the air by its head.  There were a few great moments with interesting yawns,

Snowy yawn - 2013 © Christopher Martin

ear scratching,

Taking a break - 2013 © Christopher Martin

and humorous facial expressions.

Squinting - 2013 © Christopher Martin

One of the tours detoured to a long abandoned windmill which made for a great scene.  The blue sky and white bird can make even a worn out relic look great!  Well, that particular structure has a lot of good character on its own but I think you know what I mean.

Gliding off of the windmill - 2013 © Christopher Martin

So we had a good rhythm for quite a while and when I finally packed up it was in the middle of a glide back to the same perch.  I would have loved to stay until the evening light but the hands were cold and the bird had been a very accommodating host so no reason to wear out the welcome.

Snowy flight and gaze - 2013 © Christopher Martin –

Peeking over wing - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Sky dive - 2013 © Christopher Martin

27 responses

  1. Pingback: Snowy Owls on the prairie | Christopher Martin Photography

  2. WOW – this is magnificient!! Lucky you, Chris!

    April 1, 2013 at 6:07 pm

  3. Wyatt VanDePol

    Stunningly Stupendous!

    March 27, 2013 at 10:38 am

  4. elmediat

    Absolutely beautiful.

    March 26, 2013 at 11:39 am

  5. Beautiful… I love owls. The windmill/owl combination is my favorite of these 🙂

    March 25, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    • Thanks Jessica. I’ve photographed that windmill for a couple of years but the owl ones are my favourites.

      March 25, 2013 at 6:47 pm

  6. Absolutely stunning photos!

    March 25, 2013 at 9:17 am

  7. WOW!! These are absolutely fabulous!!!

    March 24, 2013 at 6:20 pm

  8. Stunning photos.

    March 24, 2013 at 12:12 pm

  9. Beautiful photos! What an amazing afternoon this must have been!

    March 24, 2013 at 10:26 am

    • It really was great. I had a chance to repeat it two days later – really, really amazing.

      March 25, 2013 at 7:18 pm

  10. The last photo is amazing!

    March 24, 2013 at 1:43 am

  11. Stunning!

    March 24, 2013 at 12:41 am

  12. Your photos are absolutely fantastic!

    March 24, 2013 at 12:04 am

  13. These are elegant wild and beautiful, I congratulate you on your work.

    March 23, 2013 at 10:45 pm

  14. You have just made my day..Such beautiful photos of this lovely animal. Thank you so much for shearing.

    March 23, 2013 at 10:13 pm

  15. Wonderful! How great to have the old windmill in the background. Amazing to capture so many owl expressions!

    March 23, 2013 at 9:29 pm

  16. I’ve never seen a Snowy Owl so beautifully up close and portrayed with such humor; I probably never will again. These are awesome shots!! Thanks for sharing.

    March 23, 2013 at 7:41 pm

  17. Stunning photos and a description of a perfect afternoon.

    March 23, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    • Thank you Lyle. It’s been a nice way to wind up winter (I hope, I’m ready for spring’s greens).

      March 25, 2013 at 7:22 pm

  18. I really like the over the shoulder glances. What a beautiful bird and fantastic photos. The second photo is my favourite.

    March 23, 2013 at 4:34 pm

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