Snowy Owl Quest

If you have seen the movie “The Big Year” with Steve Martin and Owen Wilson, then you may understand a snowy owl obsession. If you have not seen the movie, I highly recommend it. I am happy to say that I am not obsessed with snowy owls. No, not me, I am just determined. Nevertheless, I can understand how it can drive one to a never-ending, frustrating quest.

My first encounter with a snowy owl was on the tundra above the Arctic Circle while in search of polar bears. I fell in love with these beautiful owls and hoped to some day be able to get a closer, sharper, higher image quality photograph than the one shot that day.

Snowy Stare

Snowy Stare

Since that time I have:

1. Hiked around the Aurora reservoir  in Colorado twice in search of a reported snowy owl. Never found it.

2. Driven the roads under the approach path of Denver International Airport, on eight different days in search of one that was reported to be visiting from the Arctic. Never found it.

3. Driven 12 hours to Lake Andes in South Dakota from Denver, where 30 owls had been sighted. My friend Bob Karcz and I arrived at the same time that a two-day snow storm arrived in the Lake Andes area. Searching for snowy owls in fields covered with snow is a no-win situation. We found two, but they were too far away for good photography. After a frustrating four days, we drove back to Denver. Checking with the Audubon Society as we drove back through Nebraska, we heard about a snowy at the North Platte exit on Interstate 80. Sure enough, we found it sitting on the light cover of a lamp post overlooking a Conoco gas station at the exit where hundreds of cars and trucks would pass underneath on their way to refueling. We took a few photographs to prove that we did see one, but still it was too far away for good photography, and the scene was all wrong.

Snowy On A Lamppole

Snowy On A Lamp-pole

4. Driven from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada one day while visiting family in Seattle on a rumor that snowy owls could be found in Boundary Bay. Finally found the mother lode of snowy owls. I counted 16 owls.  However, most of them were on nearby buildings. Several were in the marsh with good backgrounds and in good photographic distance. Oh happy day! Unfortunately, the weather was marginal.  No sun to light up the owl’s eyes, and we had only three hours before we had to depart back to Seattle. A return to Boundary Bay was required.

Snowys on Buildings

Snowys on Buildings

5. Three weeks later two (Bob Karcz, Rod Chandler) of my wildlife photographer friends and I were on planes back to Seattle. Of the five days at Boundary Bay, it rained on four of them. During a window of no rain, I did get a few shots worth sharing (below). However, I did not get the photograph that I came for: a head-on, razor-sharp, two-yellow-eyes-wide-open-looking-at-the-camera, bird-in-flight photograph of a snowy owl.

Snowy on Stump

Snowy on Stump

Stealthy Snowy

Stealthy Snowy

Kindred Spirits

Kindred Spirits

The quest continues, or is it the obsession continues?

To see more snowy owl images on my website click:

Snowy Owl Gallery

Rich

~ by richardseeley on January 22, 2013.

14 Responses to “Snowy Owl Quest”

  1. Beautiful collection of fantastic images.

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  2. Great stuff Richard!!
    These are high on my bucket list!.

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  3. Nice stuff Richard! Were these from this year? Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2013 16:37:41 +0000 To: slosmoke@hotmail.com

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  4. Hi Rich, I would say you are damn close to obsessed. You get an A for effort anyway. Rod

    ________________________________

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  5. OMG, and what was your lovely wife doing during all of this??? Skiing in CO, keeping the homefires burning? Or accompanying you on some trips? If this is not obsessed, then I’d like an example of what an obsession of yours is. Glad to hear you are having fun!

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  6. Belles photos de ces magnifiques oiseaux!!!

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  7. HiRichard,
    Just to let you know that there are only 5 Snowies left at Boundary Bay now, I think they are slowly leaving for colder climates.
    Eric

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  8. Years ago I tried to find the snowy owl reported to be on Plum Island Reservation in MA. Never found it and was taken back when hunters came out of the marshes. Figured I didn’t need to get shot! Enjoy the bald eagles in the area – they are visible in the open.

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    • It’s the second year in a row that we get the Snowies back from the tundra, a rare event! Hopefully next year we will see them again.
      They are such lovely creatures, one cannot stop admiring them and taking pictures of them. I must have well over 10.000 shots by now, but… as every photographer wants: I still need “THE” shot to complement my collection.
      Happy days are coming back ….(-:
      I met Bob at Boundary Bay and we are now in constant contact, a real nice man.
      Eric

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  9. You are more obsessed than I am! I am looking forward to going back to Boundary Bay in Dec/Jan. Maybe see you there?

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  10. […] Snowy Obsession […]

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