The Ocean Calls

In retrospect, I wonder if my last post on snow geese reminded me I hadn’t yet seen the snowy owls despite the fact that they have been around for over a month and have received constant coverage in the news. Of course, it might also have been the fact that we’ve had a lot of rain and I hadn’t been out birding once this week.

For whatever reason, when I saw that yesterday was going to be the one sunny day at Ocean Shores this week I decided to get up at six o’clock and head out to the beach. As usual, the weather forecast was slightly off. I got there just as a squall hit and waited fifteen minutes before heading out. As it turned out, though, it was a beautiful day.

There’s nothing like a sunny day at the beach and a 4 1/2 mile long walk. Waves Breaking Although I knew the snowy owls were most likely on the west side of the peninsula, I took the longer route along the harbor side. I knew there’d be a lot fewer people because it’s a much harder walk and experience has shown I’m more likely to see wildlife on the sheltered side of the Peninsula.

The large number of shells found on this side of the peninsula

Sea Shell

seem to attract shorebirds like this Sanderling in winter plumage.

Sandling in Winter Plumage

I’m not sure what attracts the loons, but I do know this is one of the few places I see them regularly. This one seemed to want to show that it’s molting into its breeding colors.

Loon in partial breeding plumage

I was pretty tired by the time I reached the point and was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to see the owls. I might have missed these three owls, but it would have been nearly impossible to miss the crowd that had come to see them.

Owls draw a crowd

I must admit that I felt a sudden surge of joy when I saw five snowy owls. The last time I photographed them they were hundreds of yards away. As should have been expected, all the owls were trying to sleep, since that’s what owls do in the daytime.

Snow Owl

After I’d snapped the first fifty shots to make sure I had at least one with the proper focus and exposure, all within five minutes, I began to wish one of the owls would actually do something. Luckily, tales of photographers harassing them into flight insured that I wasn’t going to get close enough to make them fly off. I figured that that’s the last thing they need being thousands of miles from home.

Still, I got pretty excited when this one decided to move three steps down the log,

Snowy Owl

and later yawned, or at least appeared to yawn.

Snowy Owl

That was one of the last shots I took before my ADD tendencies kicked in and I was off to the day’s next adventures, in many ways more rewarding than the one that started the day.

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