Unprecedented numbers of Snowy Owls have taken up residence in the mid-Atlantic region this winter. Maybe you’ve read about this phenomenon….or seen TV clips. Whether it is a scarce supply of Arctic food (lemmings) sending them south in search of mice and voles, or the more recent explanation that the Canadian population is actually burgeoning due to a hugely successful summer breeding season, the result is the same. These amazing creatures are HERE and it is tremendously exciting!
Three of these beauties were found yesterday in Lancaster County, Pa….an hour from home. It didn’t take me long to rationalize ditching my errands this morning and driving west on I-76. While happily tailgating a slow-moving horse and buggy along a road which bisected a vast expanse of corn fields, I saw a large white distant blob to my left. I turned into the next driveway signposted “Weaver’s chicken farm” and put the binoculars up. It was a Snowy alright. But I wanted a closer look…even better…a printable photo.
At that moment I noticed the property owner looking at me from his front porch. Since I was already trespassing, I braced myself for a negative encounter. Quite the contrary. “Are you looking for the Great White Owl?”, he asked in a cheery, inquisitive tone. I had his blessing to venture into the field and soon enough I was lying on my stomach on wet corn stubble, attempting to capture a printable image of this gorgeous juvenile male.
After clicking off three dozen or more shots, I sensed company. I looked up and three generations of Weaver family (I counted twelve humans) were standing behind me, patiently waiting for me to offer them a look at the bird through my binoculars. For a moment I thought I was a character in the 1980’s movie “Witness”.
An hour later I was stuck in traffic near the King of Prussia Mall. But that didn’t bother me. It gave me an opportunity to scan the retail store rooftops….you never know where “the Great White Owl” may appear!