Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Snowy tale...

Well! I have officially moved out of Toronto and now that I have a little more time on my hands, I can finally catch up from a few posts that I have been wanting to write!

On my second last day of work a few co-workers and I wanted to take a second stab at heading to Downsview Park in search for the Snowy Owl.  I had received an alert the night before notifying me that it had been seen again by someone on Tuesday, which means that there is a pretty large chance that it would still be in the area. We got all excited and our hopes up (again!) and set out on our lunch break.

We first arrived and walked into the wooded area.  Unfortunately we didn't spend a lot of time actually looking around for the Short-eared Owl that was also spotted there, but went straight for where the Snowy "should be".  One little bird caught my attention almost immediately and it turned out to be a very friendly Mockingbird!  I had never seen it THAT close up before but it looked almost identical to the one on the front of my Peterson ID book, so I was able to ID it almost immediately.

Northern Mockingbird
We met a lady on the paths who had been looking for the Snow Buntings but was not having any luck finding them.  She ended up tagging along behind us when we told her that we were there looking for the snowy owl.  We continued to walk towards a "hill".  The bird-alert noted that it was seen on top of a hill, but looking around, there were at least 4 hills and we only had about a half hour!

We took a shot and walked towards the largest, and BOY were we lucky!  We saw a flash of something on the top of the hill and our binos would only show something dark. The photo below shows the tiny little dark bump that we actually saw...nothing right!?   Well we kept our eyes on it and suddenly it turned around and exposed it's very white face.

Owl on top of the hill
 We ran off in a flash towards the other side of the hill to try and get a better look at it.  When we came around the corner we were slightly worried as we couldn't see it anywhere on the hill, when we looked in front of us, and there it was!!  Perched right on top of a lamp post!  What a BEAUTY.  From what little I know about age/sex of owls I would say this is a young female. But could also be a young male.

Snowy Owl on Lamp
All my coworkers got a great look at this "little" one and we were all so excited as this was a lifer for all 4 of us.  Supposedly I, in particular, turn into a giddy little 12 year old girl when I saw it for the first time!  We continued on our photo spree from a pretty good distance and eventually she took off.  Later on our walk back to the car we found it perched on top of one of the lighting displays!  We unfortunately needed to hurry off, but what a great lunch break that had been!

Perched on a Christmas Display.

After work I was picked up by my boyfriend. He had also been wanting to see one of these Snowy Owls everyone is reporting, so since I had seen it that day and knew it was there, we decided to go take a quick look before it was too dark.  We spotted the Snowy on a different hill then before, but it was just as astonishing seeing it a second time.  And I do believe this must be the first time a photo has ever been taken of a snowy owl on top of a juggling, dancing, purple dragon!
Snowy admiring the dragon's talent
As it got darker we made our way back to the car and saw a flash in the fields right by the parking lot, thinking (and excited) that maybe the snowy followed us so I could get a field shot of it.  I looked in my binos and spotted a smaller, brownish owl.  The area near the tips were lighter, and the underside was very light.  It was flying fast over the fields almost like a harrier, or butterfly would.  There was only one thing it could be...a Short-eared Owl!  The second one I've ever seen and one had had been reported here earlier this week.  Unfortunately, it was too dark to get a photo of it, but still just as exciting!


The Snowy invasion is still on throughout much of the area so hopefully will be seeing more this season!!

Hope everyone has a "Snowy" Christmas!