Yesterday I went to the Holgate section of the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge to try and capture images of the snowy owls that are known to stay there this winter. Temperatures hovered around a “balmy” 38 F (3 C), but wind gusts were up to 35 MPH (56 KMH) and at times I had to hold on to my camera even though it was attached firmly to a sturdy tripod. With hand warmers inserted into my gloves, my hands were kept warm, but my face was cold almost all the time. The 5-mile round trip hike took 3.5 hours as it was not easy to walk very fast in the sand, especially with a backpack and a tripod. But the weather kept people home and there was no one around during the whole time I was there!
I went to the very tip of the island without seeing any owl. Finally, I stopped and was almost ready to go back when I heard a screech. I turned and a male snowy owl was sitting in the sand among the grasses.
Snowy Owl: Hey, I am here!
After the above shot, he preened himself for a while. This indicated that he was not disturbed by my presence or picture taking.
Snowy Owl giving me the eye
The sun went behind some clouds making the scene slightly darker, which had the effect of making him open his eyes fully.
Snowy Owl with eyes fully open.
The owl seemed to be hearing something, perhaps a potential prey somewhere in the dunes, and prepared to fly away.
Snowy Owl preparing to fly.
He flew, but landed only a short distance away.
Snowy Owl after he had flown a short distance.
Then he shook himself and fluffed his feathers. Birds do that to trap warm air between their feathers and their bodies. So he too was cold!
Snowy Owl with feathers fluffed up.
Then he flew up and soon was lost in the dunes.
Snowy Owl taking off.
Snowy Owl flying away.