Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Search for Lone Star Snowy Owl a Success

When I saw a Snowy Owl in Oklahoma on New Year's Day, I was satisfied to see one from more than 100 yards away. Getting to see a Snowy in my home state in the same year from just 20 yds away is a huge blessing. It's more than I could ask for. (Praise God for that!)

On Sunday, Marcin, Daria and I left San Antonio around 4:30 a.m. and headed toward Robertson Park in Rockwall, TX. The trip took about 5 hours. We dreaded the drive back since it was just a day trip. But when you want to see an unpredictable creature of the wild tundra hundreds of miles out of its context, it's worth the trip.

When we got to the marina, we saw a host of birders and photographers all gathered in the parking lot near a utility pole where it was seen the previous day. There was no sign of the juvenile female Snowy Owl. We waited for about an hour when suddenly, Marcin called out, "There it is!" as he pointed to a pale, shadowy figure perched on a sailboat mast.

The owl got the same treatment as a female pop star taking the stage in front of crazed fans. But instead of loud applause and cheers, there was a chorus of camera shutters. She didn't seem to mind and flew farther into the spotlight, literally. She landed on a light post with its back facing the crowd of birders rushing into position to get some prized Snowy shots.
Me and a few birders tried our luck on a small extension bridge to the docks that led to a locked gate. A few boat enthusiasts saw us pressing up against the gate and were kind enough to invite us through the gate to get a closer look at the owl. It was like getting backstage passes to a favorite show.
While we got a closer look and snapped photos, the owl went about its business, resting and preening.
She was so comfortable on the light post that she stayed there all day. We left after about 2 hours of looking at the owl and went to Lake Tawakoni State Park to find some additional species. Some of the highlights included White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creepers, Eastern Towhee and a flock of Smith's Longspurs. (A difficult species to find.)

After a nice afternoon of birding, we dropped by the park again to get one last look at the owl.
As the sun set and the lighting got worse for photographers, the group of birders disbanded. Marcin, Daria and I set out for the trip home. It was a whirlwind trip, but at the end of the day, all of us had Snowy Owl on our life lists.

Marcin and Daria Kojtka


  1. Wow, success! Such a magnificent creature and your photos are spectacular! So nice of them to pose out in the open for you. Congratulations.

  2. Beautiful! The owl's feather pattern is so cool. I am surprised it hasn't inspired the fashion runways yet. Good shots.

  3. Thanks! It was a blast. The owl hasn't been seen in the past 2 days so it may have been the last chance. Hopefully it will come back for all those who are eager to see it.