It wasn't going well. I don't usually take my camera and drive 25 miles to Keystone Spit to look for birds at the end of a dark, overcast afternoon. This time I had to try. I'd seen a Facebook tip that a Snowy Owl was hanging around Keystone.
|My first Snowy Owl, an outright gift.|
Others were looking, too, cruising the area slowly in SUVs, windows down, scanning the woody debris with binoculars and stopping occasionally to ask the odd pedestrian if he'd seen any Snowy Owls.
"No," I overheard several times from a distance. "But I heard there was one at Stanwood the other day. And last year they gathered at Boundary Bay, BC." Ok, thanks.
I'd walked two miles of backshore in fading light. Except for a few common gulls, all I'd seen were gnarled beach-logs twisted into bird shapes. The day was over and I was thinking about home.
I was nearly back to my vehicle when a white glow on a distant log caught my eye, just across from where I had parked. I put my lens on it and beheld the first Snowy Owl of my life.
If you haven't seen a Snowy Owl, it is exhilarating. I wasn't prepared for the intense white, the penetrating yellow eyes and the sheer size of this bird. This Arctic visitor is a magnificent predator, but when sitting on a beach log it radiates serenity and calm.
I was alone. Others had come and gone.
The Snowy Owl was there for me - a most perfect gift for the new year.