Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Snowy Owl Chase Kicks Off 2012

I decided to start the year off in a special way by going beyond Texas borders to chase a Snowy Owl that had been reported for the past 3 weeks in Northern Oklahoma. I was about 4 hours south of the owl visiting family for the New Year in Denton, TX.

On about 4 hours of sleep, I woke up around 7 a.m. on Jan. 1 and headed toward the little town of Marland, OK. When I got off of Hwy. 77, I had to depend on my odometer to get me to the correct field where the sighting had been reported on Ebird. (Guess I need to replace the power cable to my GPS.)

I scoped the field from two different angles for about an hour with no luck. (However, I did get my lifer Smith's Longspur while waiting.) Fortunately, some local birders showed up and started looking as well. After a few minutes of searching, the group decided to scour some of the neighboring fields. Terry Mitchell, who had been keeping track of the owl for the past few days, took down my number to call me if he found it.

Surprisingly, it didn't take Terry very long to find him. About an hour later he found the little white speck about 300 yards out in one of the fields where it had first been reported several weeks ago.

Where's Snowy?
 The owl stood motionless with its back toward us. "Are you sure it's not just a salt lick," one of the birders joked. But sure enough it turned its head and looked at us with those golden eyes. I probably spent about 2 hours soaking it all in and trying to digiscope with the aid of one of the birder's heavy duty scopes.

My first attempt at digiscoping. A point-and-shoot might have worked better.

I had better luck at a different angle without digiscoping, but the photo doesn't do the owl justice. At least it's something.

Snowy Owl

What a gift to kick off 2012 with a snowy! Thanks to Terry and the other Oklahoma birders for helping out an eager Texan get this special bird. The experience will be hard to top this year, but I'm up for the challenge.


  1. Hah! That first digiscocpe picture does look like a salt lick! Funny.
    I'm so glad you decided to start a bird blog! I'm going to mention you in my next garden post and see if we can send some more followers your way.

  2. Thanks, Abbey! That would be great. Maybe we can do some cross-promoting. Birding and Gardening go hand in hand.