This morning I had a little list of things I needed to pick up from the stores in the local retail park at Vaudreil. I’d planned to have a look around later in the hope of seeing a few more Snowy Owls now that the temperature had warmed up to -18°C and that blasted wind had gone completely so I had my kit with me.
The shopping went as well as can be expected given the trying circumstances viz, parents spending stupid amounts on stupid presents that their ever ungrateful offspring will either demolish or abandon within hours of the wrapping paper hitting the recyc bin! I wonder if they’d go for the idea of a premium rate shopping trolley there with Ben Hurr chariot style spiked wheels, I think there would be lots of takers.
As I left the profligate to their fun I glanced up and there was a dark immature Snowy Owl ignoring me. My vantage point was not the best but, but using my pigeon-French I got access to the nearby construction site and, thanks to the better angle I was able to get a few photos as the owl looked around and treated all of the human traffic as background noise. I put the bird in the scope and the construction guy came for over for a look. He then told me they always had lots of them where he lived – perhaps the white plumage made him confuse Snow Geese with Snowy Owls!
Below owl #1, a variety of shots and edits.
As I watched, the owl suddenly perked up and dropped, well like and owl really. It hit a non-descript part of the field next to where I was standing but came up empty. It then sauntered – for want of a better description – up onto a pile of snow and proceeded to ignore everything again. I took a few shots then left. As I pulled out onto Chemin de la Gare I looked up at another Snowy Owl on top of a utility pole just over the road. In short order I’d procured a couple of acceptable shots of this bird too.
Below owl #2.
The drop in the wind had obviously encouraged owls that had previously been (sensibly) sheltering to sit up and get active. Perhaps a couple of days without much hunting success was also part of the carrot that got them going. With that in mind I set off to see how many there were, I didn’t have to go far. On St-Feréol off highway 20 I found two more. A little further north, on Montee Chenier I found three more and so I then went directly to St-Lazare sand pits hoping for my pits lifer (you knew I’d work it in somehow) and saw none!
For many people this body severe blow in the face of reason would do for them but not me. I went off on my regular owl route out around St-Clet even though I’d done practically the same run yesterday and not seen an owl. The owls out that way were clearly happy to join in the wind free fun and I counted another nine, making 16 for the morning. My haul also included my first adult male of the season – he being the only one close enough for a snap.
With so many Snowy owls around I’m sure I’ll get one for my pits list eventually, probably a fly-over and preferably being chased by a Gyr Falcon or am I being too greedy there?
If you read this and go to the retail park to photograph the owls, please remember that they are wild and that they will let you photograph them at a reasonable range – a range set by them. Also, please, no mice there and especially around St-Clet. You don’t want to put the owls in any danger now do you?
Below the male Snowy Owl including aback shot – mostly because that was the way it was facing but also to show how little black there is on it.