Snowy Owls

Today we took a short trip to Vancouver to see, and take pictures of, the recent influx of snowy owls. The story was covered in the Seattle Times, and after checking the weather forecast and double checking the location of the local sightings, we were on our way.

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Our destination was Boundary Bay, just south of Vancouver and the hub of the most sightings. We got an early start, caffeinated up in Marysville, and made good time to the border (yes Mr. Border Security man, we’re here to shoot the owls…). Despite the weather reports optimistic forecast of 30% rain, we found ourselves driving in minor precipitation most of the way to Delta. We almost went directly to Vancouver to grab lunch (figuring we’d come back later in the day, meet a friend and take pictures of the owls in better conditions) but made a last minute decision to stop by Boundary Bay and assess the situation.

The area around Boundary Bay is incredible for the density of birds and is, by any measure, a birder’s dream. There were easily 20 bald eagles in the short couple miles from the highway to the bay, and countless waterfowl swirled around the car and meandered around adjacent fields. We donned our packs in a light mist and walked to the gravel path that runs the length of the bay.

There, not even 100 yards from the car, we got our first look at the owls. There must have been 25 or 30 scattered along the driftwood piles, some no further away from the gravel path than 30 feet. It was incredible.

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As an exploratory mission, we only intended to stay 20 minutes. We quickly made some images, waiting each time for the owls to look at us with their piercing yellow eyes. Almost as soon as we arrived, the weather started to deteriorate and soon we were defending our gear from real rain. We decided to pack up, head to lunch, and come back afterwards.

It was a return that wasn’t meant to be. While we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch of Montreal smoked meat at Siegel’s Bagels the weather continued to deteriorate. Not only was it raining harder but it was also darker, rendering photography difficult if not impossible.

In the end we came directly home. We were both inspired by what we saw, and excited to visit again (with longer lenses)!