Wednesday, May 30, 2018
STILL HANGING AROUND
It was 88 degrees outside and I had the A-C in my car cranked up to keep the interior cool. I was going to show a friend some of the places where I enjoy taking pictures. We headed out south of town and I decided to cut through the ball park to show her where I'd seen and photographed Snowy Owls over the winter months.
I'd heard there were still some Snowies in the area, but I hadn't anticipated seeing one. But off in the distance I saw the familiar shape perched atop a light post.
While it's always exciting to see these magnificent birds, I was also somewhat disturbed because it was so hot and the bird should've returned to cooler climes, or so it seemed to me.
The bird didn't tip its head down to acknowledge we were watching it, although one pupil appeared to be trained downward to where we were. It seemed way more intent on watching something out in the distance.
I hadn't expected the Snowy to take off, but it did soon after we'd arrived. We'd missed catching it in flight, but did track it as it flew inside a chain-link fenced area. It landed right next to a metal storage area and immediately turned towards us. We followed it and photographed it through the narrow openings between fence sections.
She was the largest Snowy Owl I'd ever seen. Those bright yellow eyes were focused intently on us as we tried to photograph her. I wondered if she had picked up prey along the way on her brief flight into the fenced area. I looked at her feet and it appeared there was something there, but I couldn't tell for sure.
As suddenly as she'd taken flight, she turned her back on us and began waddling away, lifting those big feet with long, sharp talons one at a time.
She was scurrying pretty fast and I admired the beautiful markings on her feathers. I wondered if she'd wanted to get away from us, why she'd not taken to flight.
And then she turned and I saw why. She had prey in her mouth, what looked to be a young bird. She had been masterful at picking off the bird in her short flight, and then concealing it from us eager photographers.
We left her alone to eat in peace. My hope was that she was fueling up for the next leg of flight to cooler habitats. Or maybe she'd been porking up so much over the winter that she wasn't up to flying those long distances.