A long, cold (and worthwhile) wait


The photograph above of the snowy owl in flight was taken late in the morning on February 11th.  This flight followed a long wait after some good early action.  The wait started with a feather cleaning session on an entrance gate which was interrupted by the approach of this truck which prompted the bird to fly to a more isolated spot.


When the vehicle drew too close for the owl’s liking, she launched and flew along the fence line towards the sun.


She didn’t go too far – landing on a post roughly 100 metres away.


We were separated from the owl by a fence line of our own which ran parallel to hers and they were about 80 metres apart.  That distance was just fine for me and with a 500mm lens made the subject a reasonable size in the frame.  From where I was, the sun angle and the background were both far from ideal.  I walked along the fence line and found a new location which allowed for improvements in both areas.  I kept moving around now and then to change the scene.  The owl did not – she settled in and did not leave the post for a long time.  There was no way to know at that point, but it would be 2 hours and 38 minutes before the snowy would return to the air.


The potential for a special moment – maybe a dive close to our line or a flight with the sunlight catching her eyes – kept eyes glued on her and fingers resting on the shutter buttons.  At a few different points, a drift of snow buntings buzzed past the owl as they flew to different spots around the field to forage.  For her part, the owl watched these comings and goings with minimal interest.  For me, these sorties were welcome bits of action.


Along the way there was more preening, dozing and the occasional stretch.  The one below seemed like a yoga position and was one that she held for several seconds.  Maybe this was all a part of her morning meditation?


Just before noon, the wings opened and she pulled her body down into a crouch.  She paused for a second and then pushed off into the air.



The snowy flew along her fence line which allowed for a few nice photographs before she passed us, crossed the road and landed in the snow near the top of a small rise that was a couple of hundred metres away.  My fingers were aching from the cold so this was one of the rare times where I was no longer interested in continuing to shoot.  I was happy to get in the truck and get the heat going.




25 responses

  1. Amazing photos!

    February 24, 2017 at 5:51 pm

  2. https://wonderfect.wordpress.com

    February 18, 2017 at 8:00 am

  3. Reblogged this on Le Bien-Etre au bout des Doigts.

    February 17, 2017 at 11:13 am

  4. Beautiful series!

    February 17, 2017 at 10:27 am

    • Thank you Jane! I hope 2017 is treating you well so far.



      February 19, 2017 at 6:57 am

  5. Spectacular!

    February 17, 2017 at 7:08 am

  6. Quite apart from the beauty of the owl, and the lovely variety of captures you’ve shared, I was interested in the eyes. In every photo, they seem half-closed, as though the bird is squinting against the sun, or protecting its eyes against the cold. Is that so, or are half-closed eyes characteristic of this species? They really do add to the appeal, and the sense of a bird perfectly at ease in its environment.

    February 17, 2017 at 6:54 am

    • Hello. I do not know about their eyes from a scientific perspective but from observing them frequently for several winters, I believe sometimes they are squinting against the sun and sometimes they are napping or at least a little sleepy. Often, I feel their individual character comes out, as with many living creatures, through their eyes. And, this snowy owl seemed to show a take what comes and roll with it attitude – as buntings buzzed by, trucks drove past and while silly photographers sat and watched every move.

      February 19, 2017 at 7:18 am

  7. I love the way the cool morning light casts a blue hue on the back and wings of this owl. Reminds me of a watercolor class my daughter took a few winters ago. She came home marveling that to accurately paint snow, white is not the main color. I’m also captivated with the photo of the owl almost posing as the main subject while the swirling snow buntings create a swirl of movement . Thanks for sharing.

    February 17, 2017 at 6:14 am

    • Than you Tona. How snow and light interact is true magic. It was one of those things I enjoyed thinking about while I watched and waited for this owl!

      February 19, 2017 at 7:20 am

  8. Cute little guy. Great images!

    February 17, 2017 at 5:50 am

  9. This is amazing.

    February 17, 2017 at 5:37 am

    • Thank you Alisha! The snowy owls have a serenity about them that draws me. Sharing time in their presence feels like a gift they bless me with whenever it comes to be.

      February 19, 2017 at 7:36 am

  10. These snaps are beautiful..

    February 17, 2017 at 5:25 am

  11. Pingback: A long cold,…. – Agence Zamano

  12. lovely photos

    February 17, 2017 at 4:44 am

  13. mylifestorymyway

    really beautiful..

    February 17, 2017 at 4:07 am

  14. paulinecathleenphotography

    Such good photos! I love this white olws like the Harry Potter owl and your photos are amazing ❤

    February 17, 2017 at 3:54 am

  15. Reblogged this on O LADO ESCURO DA LUA.

    February 17, 2017 at 3:36 am

  16. you’re fucking good

    February 17, 2017 at 3:36 am

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