The Great Grey Owl influx has attracted a lot of birders wanting to connect with what is one of the great owls of the World. I had a request from Mikkel, a Dane living in New York and who had great grey gap in his life experience. I am always happy to help birders and so it was that we met up in St-Lazare Friday for the ‘guaranteed’ bird which had been around since 29-Dec-2012.
In his enthusiasm, Mikkel arrived after 1pm; the owl normally arrives after 4pm. We did a perfunctory search but ‘Old Faithful’ was presumably somewhere deep in the scrub. Plan B was to try around Senneville where three birds had been seen. We found the photographers but no bird, none had been seen that day mmm. I felt very confident that we would still get the bird at St-Lazare so we went back, followed by Bruce who was also keen to see the bird, preferably through the lens of his camera.
We walked and scanned and scanned and walked and the owl, that had shown so well the evening before, simply refused to show. Down, but not out, Mikkel retreated to a local hotel and we arranged to meet back at St-Lazare Saturday morning in the hope that the bird had not gone too far.
The sky said snow later and it did not lie. We searched the area at St-Lazare briefly but it was not there, back to plan B. This time Mikkel followed in his car and we split up the search area, he going along Senneville Road, me checking east to Cap St-Jacques. I managed to find distant bird in fields south of the road and called Mikkel, aren’t cell phones wonderful. Mikkel came haring back and enthused over the reasonable (but not great) views.
I had a hunch that we might be closer if we pretended to have dead relatives in St-Genevieve Cemetery and so it proved. We trekked out behind the cemetery and across some fields, me expecting the French version of “get orf moy larnd” (it’s phonetic) but it never came. After 250m of snow tramping we found ourselves a respectful distance from the bird, getting excellent views.
I left Mikkel still gushing and noted the first flakes starting to drift down, five minutes later another fall of white s**t (to quote a friend) had begun.
The weather people are saying that the warm is on the way, the average temp bar easing to positive. How long the magical owl of the north will stick is anyone’s guess – I hope they do stick a bit longer though, more admirers might be on the way.
Below shots from today.