Life bird: Snowy Owl!
Just hours after Sunday's blog post, in which I mentioned the Snowy Owl irruption, I was able to witness the rare spectacle for myself. I drove up to Rockingham County, found the location (Cecil Wampler Road), and sure enough there was a crowd of a dozen or more bird aficionados. [They] were all peering at the Snowy Owl sitting in a barren corn field about 100 yards away. And just like that, I chalked up life bird number 408, duly recording the image on my Canon digital camera:
It was truly amazing to see a bird so far south of its normal range. The owl turned his head and stretched a few times, but did not move otherwise. With so many people gathered along the road, there was a danger of a traffic accident, so I bid farewell and departed after only ten or fifteen minutes.
After that, I drove a few miles west over to Silver Lake, on the north side of Dayton. To my delight, nearly all of the migratory ducks that have been reported there recently were present. The one bird I missed was a Horned Grebe. The bright afternoon sun made for ideal photographic conditions, except that my camera doesn't capture brightly-lit colors very well.
These photos, and several more, can be seen on the Wild birds yearly photo gallery page. Here is a list of what I saw on Sunday:
- Snowy Owl
- American Wigeons
- American Coots
- Mute Swans
- Belted Kingfisher
I drove back up to Rockingham County today (Wednesday), but no Snowy Owl was to be seen. The same species of ducks and other birds were still at Silver Lake, however. On the way back into Staunton, I stopped at Bell's Lane, and saw four male Green-winged Teals in the pond behind the Days Inn, as well as a Northern Harrier (young or female), and some Red-tailed Hawks.