I'm not much of a chaser of rarer birds but, when I heard that two Snowy Owls were seen about 20 minutes away from me, I had to give it look. I had seen Snowy Owls in captvitiy but never in the wild and I was excited to see these striking birds in action in their natural habitat. This year is shaping up to see a big influx of Snowy Owls down from the Arctic. Many have already been reported throughout Wisconsin but this was the first report that was close to me.
I walked the natural preserve for a little while and I caught a glimpse of a large white bird flying over the fields. Amazing! It had to be Snowy! Maybe, that would be the only glimpse I get but it was amazing regardless. I decided to try another area of the preserve where most of the Snowy Owls had been seen. I parked on the side of the road and I decided to take a walk through the prairies to see if I could relocate the Snowy I had seen. By that time, the sun was right in my eyes and I decided to grab my sunglasses before walking any further. I turned back to walk back to my car to grab them and this is what I saw...
Yes, I had stupidly parked right under a telephone poll where a Snowy Owl was perched. I guess it's possible it landed there while I was walking the other way down the trail. Sometime it's better to be lucky than good!
I observed and photographed the owl for a awhile through my long telephoto lens and binoculars. At one point it was dive bombed by a Sharpie or Cooper's Hawk. It most likely is a young male since it is mostly white. Females tend to have more heavy black streaking. After awhile, I figured it was time to go and leave this guy alone.
I slowly walked back to my car as not to spook him. I took one last pictures of him giving me the stare down right before I jumped into my car and I slowly drove off. He remained on his perch and I was relieved not to disturb this beautiful bird.
Unfortunately, I had gotten too close on accident. Snowy Owls are very popular birds to chase by photographers and birder. Sometimes on the quest for the best shot/view people stress and disturb these birds. Always keep your distance and refrain from posting exact locations of birds like Snowy Owls. Enjoy these striking birds from a long lens or binoculars.