Saturday, February 4, 2012

Snowy Owl

The quest to see a snowy owl continued today.  Donna and I met at 8:30 AM to head down to Duxbury Beach, where at least one snowy owl has been spotted consistently over the past several weeks.  I even had some pretty specific directions about where to find it from internet information.  We stopped first at the gated entrance to Duxbury Beach Park parking lot, closed for the season and surrounded by No Parking signs.  We backtracked out of there to another parking area (this one marked Resident Sticker Parking Only - Year Round).  It was the parking lot for Green Harbor Beach.  We were hoping we'd be able to walk toward Duxbury Beach from here, but there was a huge pile of rocks in between and no way to walk it.  More blind driving around to no avail, so I decided we would just go back to the parking area and risk it, parking outside the entry road on the side of the residential road.  We walked in and were excited to see a large group of photographers, with scopes, on a raised walkway to the beach.  Thinking this must surely be due to a snowy owl, we joined them on the bridge.  It was a Mass Audubon outing, and they were just birding.

From our walk, we decided that the dirt road to the side of the parking lot was the road mentioned in my on line materials, and the bridge in the distance was a bridge we needed to get to.  Looking at the dirt road, which back at the entry was marked "4 wheel drive only", we decided it wasn't that bad and was worth trying!  So I drove slowly and carefully down the dirt road to the other end.  Again, seemingly dozens of signs marked that beach access is limited to residents or people with stickers only.  Parking limited, etc.  Duxbury is not very friendly!  We parked and started walking toward the beach, when a man asked if we were looking for the owl.  He then told us exactly where to go to find it.  Back to the car!  Further down the dirt road at the 2nd overpass to the beach, on the water line, who should we catch up with but the caravan of Mass Audubon birders all set up at the side of the road.  This time, they confirmed that a snowy owl had been sighted.  I couldn't see a thing, even with my camera.  Donna spotted it with the binoculars and one of the Audubon people offered me a view with her scope.  She said that it had its back to us, but as soon as I looked into the scope, it swiveled its head and I felt like I was looking directly into its bright yellow eyes.  An amazing view!  So lucky to be there at the same time as the Audubon outing!

My photo is poor (and this is the best out of many) because of the distance, but it was still a thrill!  As we were leaving, we stopped to capture a few photos of other bird life present on the beach.   What an outing!

Black-Bellied Plover (winter plumage)
(thanks to Alan M. of the Forbush Bird Club for IDing this photo)

Harrier (a/k/a Marsh Hawk) hunting

(winter plumage)
Again, thanks to Alan for this ID.

Click on any photo to enlarge it.

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