Monday, 19 January 2015

Snowy Owl (Harfang des neiges)

18 January 2015

     Just as it was last year, 2015 is turning out to be a year when Snowy Owls Bubo scandiacus have moved south in considerable numbers. Apparently when this phenomenon happens in two consecutive years it is called an echo year. I had not previously heard this term but it seems pretty appropriate so I will use it!
     The owl shown in this picture was the third one I have seen so far this winter.

     It was located in Bronte Harbour where I have seen Snowy Owls in the past, so the habitat there is evidently to the liking of snowies spending the winter here. This individual appears to be a large female and seems to have captured prey, although I am unable to discern exactly what it is.This picture was taken from around a hundred metres away from the bird. The prey item appears to be furred, although I suspect the principal source of food for the owl is waterfowl, which are present in abundance.
     The temperature was quite mild, hovering above freezing for most of the day, but it was a benign interval in what has been a fairly cold snap lasting a couple of weeks.
     The following two pictures give an idea of some of the ice formations along the lake.

     These Mallards Anas platyrynchos were congregating on the ice in between bouts of dabbling for food in the shallow edges of the water.

     As mentioned above, a variety of waterfowl was present in abundance and the following pictures represent just some of the species.
Common Goldeneye Buchephala clangula
Redhead Aytha americana
Male Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator
Common Mergansers Merganser merganser

Male Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis


  1. A wonderful Winter scenery and a lovely owl. So cute.
    Best regards, Synnöve

  2. I'm enjoying your birds, David! I've never seen a real snowy owl, other than the one that was stuffed and sitting in my great grandmother's parlour when I was a little girl. Even though the temperature is mild, the photos feel cold with the ice and grey water. The last duck looks like he's wearing a cap of snow. Have a great week!

  3. Great the snow owl. Sometimes one is spotted in the North of The Neterlands. The verieity of ducks and waterbirds is lovely. Good to see that not all the water is frosen but it stlll looks very cold.

  4. Great post, I love the Snowy Owl and the Long-tailed Duck is one of my favorite.. wonderful series of photos.

  5. i would love to see a snowy owl
    there were down south here in W. MT last year. I wonder if they are back again.
    loved seeing all your photos

  6. Hello David,
    This snow owl with prey is sublime, sometimes there is also seen one in the Netherlands.
    I like the Long-tailed duck and Merganser.
    Have a great week.
    Best regards, Irma

  7. Espectacular el Clangula hyemalis, es una maravilla de pato. Saludos desde España.

  8. Nice to see David.
    I'm envious of the snowy owl, I also want the lens.
    Greetings Tinie

  9. You certainly get a variety of waterbirds. I do like the one of the male Red-breasted Merganser.

  10. You don't know how lucky you are to get local Snowy Owls!

  11. Nice shots David!!
    Nice that you saw that owl and great to see the ice on the rocks.
    Shot 7 is very wonderful!!

    Best regards,

  12. A most enjoyable post, David. I'm pleased to see that there's still plenty of unfrozen water around you.

    Snowy Owl is right up at the top of my wish list. Maybe one day I'll make it! Apart from (of course!) the first image, my favourites are the third image with the icicles, and the spectacularly scruffy head-dress of the Merganser.

    Best wishes to you both - - - - Richard

  13. If you make it over here in the winter, Richard, we'll scour every snowbank and drift, every breakwater and field, every hilltop and valley until we find a Snowy for you!

  14. Great photography David, especially the Common Merganser and Long-tailed Duck , beautiful.

  15. Good morning Davis.. Nice pictures and great place to take photos .. Love the snowy owl.. :-)))
    About your comment on my blog.. In summer and especially in northern Spain is impossible to see red kites .. It's a bird migrates. In summer migrates to Africa and instead come to the Iberian peninsula (Spain) Black Kites .. Regards...

  16. Hola Señor Gascoigne. Brrrrr! Seriously winter birds you have there while I am forced to apply yet more sun block.

    I am more than jealous though that your Snowy Owls echo through Canada and would happily swop your picture of Long tailed Duck for a Trumpeter Finch?

    1. Maybe I can go one better. How about a Snowy Owl for a Barn Owl?

  17. WOW!
    Fantastic to see and photograph this Snowy owl!
    What a beauty! It looks like it is holding a prey in its claws....
    An "echo year", now that sounds romantic and spot on! I too like this expression!!
    I envy your Golden eye, Merganser and Long-tailed ducks, the latter is truly magnificent!
    Keep well David, hugs for the both of you :)

  18. Dear David,
    I never saw a snow owl in the wild! (So far, only in bird-stations and zoos...) I think these birds are so beautiful and impressive, especially when they fly - very elegant! Also your water bird photos are great!

    Thank you very much for your wise comment to "Save the Laughing Wrinkle" (I'm not sure if this is a correct translation...) It's true that getting old is "part of the grand journey of life", but nowadays so many are not able to accept the truth and try to stay "forever young"... That's the reason why I launched this campaign...

    Best wishes from Austria,

  19. The Snowy Owl with prey is fantastic, David. And the Long Tailed Duck too. I have never seen those birds. Great series. Greetings from the Netherlands, Joke

  20. The snowy owl is great! I love owls so here make very happy with me:-)))) Also, you red-breasted merganser is a great photo as the long-tailed duck man. Also you other pictures of the ducks are quite nice and the colors are very nice inside, Thank you David.

  21. Snowy Owl and the rest, great to see these shots, the owl would be a "lifer" for "me"...