Next month we will have lived in Canada for 10 years and in all this time we have not been lucky enough to see any snowy owls in the wild. That changed this past weekend!
We took a road trip this past Sunday up to Drumheller and back again via some back roads rather than the direct highway routes. On our way back, just about half an hour away from home, I first spotted a snowy owl perched on a road sign, but by the time I realized this and looked back, it had flown off. At that point I was just happy that I had actually seen one, no matter how brief. A few kilometers further down and there was another one sitting on a fence post by the side of the road. This time my husband took the next opportunity to make a u-turn and get us as close as we dared to prevent it from flying off. The owl, a female I think (as males are all white, unless they are a juvenile), happily sat on the fence post just turning her head from side to side letting me photograph her. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever be able to get a photo of a wild snowy owl!
We are lucky in our area, as just east of us is prime snowy owl winter habitat; the birds arrive around November and stay until about March, before flying up into the arctic for the summer. Despite it being their winter home, it is difficult to spot these birds; it involves a lot of driving around in cold temperatures on roads that barely look driveable and it takes a good bit of luck (I know, a few years ago I went out specifically in this area to see if I could spot some). Snowy owls can be quite territorial and will defend their patch; thankfully for us, they are active day and night. Our winter so far has been very mild, with not a lot snow on the ground, so if the weather stays like this I might have to take another drive to that area to see if I can spot some more!
The other bird we spotted on our day out was this prairie falcon (at least, that’s what I think he is!). Again, a lot of these birds usually fly off if you get too close, so I count myself lucky that this one didn’t seem to mind us.
We had a great trip out (more photos to come in the next posts), made even more special by the sighting of the snowy owl.