Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Snowy Owl

There has been a large influx of Snowy Owls in the Northeast this year.  Since I have started birding again in a real way, about the last five years, we haven't had a decent showing of Snowy Owls... until this past week.  By the way, it's a lifer.  After a couple of reports of Snowy Owls seen in CT, one was close enough to make a run for.  So in the middle of the afternoon, I booked out of work for an hour or so and headed to Milford Point.  It was worth it.

Light might not be the best and led to a very soft image when in conjunction with my crappy lens.  But a record shot it is.  I was lucky enough to see another one about a week later in the same area but obviously a different bird, being very dark.  This one I believe was called a female, I have no skill in figuring out the difference.  I'm just glad that they are here and I hope I have another chance to get out and take a bit better of an image.  As I got to this point, at the boundary where the US Fish and Wildlife Area began, the bird seemed to be paying more attention to me and so I snapped a few quick shots and backed up so as not to spook the bird.  Not everyone is as accommodating, on Sunday I even saw two men walk through the off-limits area to go around the other side of that bird to get closer.  I heard that the bird left shortly there-after. 

The map above illustrates locations of all the spots where Snowy Owls have been seen in November and so far this December.  This data was pulled from eBird a website where everyone can participate in a citizen science project that collects sightings of birds all over the world. 

Without actually downloading data from eBird and creating my own maps,  the above is the total number of reports for Snowy Owls from Nov-Feb for the past 5 years.  While this is influenced by a lot factors (ie. number of people birding, ease of birds visibility, and number of reports); it's more an illustration of the chance of seeing one.

Here's the same data BUT from the 5 years previous.  aka.  2004-2008.  It looks like the last big year for Snowies in Connecticut was 2008 the winter before I started birding again.  There's lots of great ways to look at birds sightings and distributions on eBird, like these two graphs from the website.  Go check it out and submit your observations!