One of my photography students brought a photo of a snowy owl to class Wednesday evening. So I decided I would see the owl for myself Friday afternoon.
I finished photographing an assignment for a magazine shortly after noon and headed toward Randolph. I found the owl with some help from a friendly local. The owl was sitting on a bale of hay wrapped in white plastic. You might be able to spot it in this photo on a lower bale to the left of center.
I slowly approached the owl with my tripod and long lens.
The snowy mostly sat sleeping in the sun. Here is a photo I got after about 20 minutes when it briefly opened its eyes just a bit.
A little later the owl decided to relocate to a different hay bale. I knew it was going to fly because of the preparations it made. But I wasn’t fast enough to catch its flight properly.
Once it settled in on its new perch it went back to sleep. About 25 minutes later it started to stir and I got a photo that appeared to show that the owl might have an injured right foot.
Another 20 minutes or so of sleeping and the owl decided to do some preening.
Here is a sequence of the snowy owl preening.
A half dozen photographers came and went. A couple walked quite close to the owl. The owl seemed to be quite unperturbed by their presences, even fairly close up. Perhaps it has only seen a couple dozen humans in its life.
Eventually the snowy relocated to a much more photogenic perch. It was fortunate that the owl faced into the sun the whole time. Perhaps it was doing this to stay warm, but it also helped photographically. Front light is excellent for photographing birds.
I was disappointed I did not get any decent flight shots. So I pulled one I took over 11 years ago in central VT.
I spent about 2 1/2 hours mostly standing in one place watching the owl sleep. I was alone with it much of the time. By the time I left I was thoroughly cold. The hot chocolate I had when I returned home was an excellent way to warm my body.