Sunday, December 5, 2010

On the road to Reifel: Northern Hawk Owl.

 Look for the blob in the tree directly in front of the man in the pale jacket setting up his camera.

For several days birders have been flocking to Westham Island to see a Northern Hawk Owl. The bird has been quite cooperative, spending most of its time hanging out in plain view at the first big left-turn corner after the long, straight drive across the island.  It was not hard to find this morning--simply drive until you ran into the tripods in the middle of the road.

Northern Hawk Owls, as the name suggests, are northern birds, and are regarded as very rare winter visitants this far south.  Even a keen birder, remaining at this latitude, may see only one in a lifetime. The cold spell we had a week or so back seemed to have brought a number of interesting northerners, including a number of Gyrfalcons--and other the other end of the Deadly to Cute Scale--a smattering of Snow Buntings.  A good site to keep track of what is about is the BC Vancouver Birds Yahoo Group.

I took a few quick pictures.  It is now apparent why the other photographers were in the middle of the road; they were trying to get a shot without a branch through the middle of the bird.

After carefully winding through the throng, we continued to Reifel and saw a Great Horned Owl, two Peregrines, a Cooper's Hawk and two Northern Harriers.  Supposedly there was a Barred Owl about too, but we missed it.  Still, a pleasingly raptory day.

On the way back, the owl had flown across to the other side of the road, and parked cars trailed off into the distance.  If you post it online, they will come...


Urban Wild said...

You lucky dog, you! What a beauty!

KaHolly said...

I'm pretty envious! Every winter there is one up in Caribou Maine, but he's never around the same time I'm there visiting. ~karen

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

It IS a beautiful bird!

biobabbler said...

Wow. What a stunning creature. Don't think I've seen one before. Doesn't look too psyched about the crowds, but maybe most creatures that gorgeous and talented are accustomed to the paparazzi. =)