Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Owl Be There

Photo by Madalene Murphy
On our way home from walking (and in the case of our dog Terra running) along in the sand of Salisbury beach along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, we drove through the fjorded salt marshes lining the road where we saw an SUV pulled over to the side, and standing behind it a man looking through a telescope out into the marsh. We knew there were Snowy Owls in the area, driven south of their usual range in search of food. 

Friends of ours had seen (and photographed) one back in Pennsylvania, and we were frankly a bit jealous. We stopped and asked the man along the road what he was looking at; he gestured toward a white spot in the distance and offered to let us look through his scope at the Snowy Owl. As we looked, he noted that this was the purest white one he had seen. While we looked and talked, cars began to arrive and disgorged people with tripods and cameras with lenses as big as their arms. 

When we left there must have been ten cars parked along this stretch of the road with people looking at and photographing the distant Snowy Owl, who was serenely combing the ground for rodents. The next day that we came, a Snowy Owl on a lump of snow quite close to the road also attracted a seeing frenzy. The group photographing the owl was the subject of the front-page picture on today’s paper: "Snowy Owl Draws Crowd." Who was the big news? 

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