Saturday, 31 January 2015

Species of the week 5 - Winter Surprise - Snowy Owl

The snowy owl, Bubo scandiacus is the only owl I have managed to photograph in the wild and it was in the UK! 

Snowy Owl, Bubo scandiacus - Cairngorm
I was in Cairngorm in February 2013 ski touring near Carn Etchachan with my ex partner when we were lucky enough to come across this beautiful snowy owl. It sat for a moment and then I saw a blur of white wings which looked way too big for a ptarmigan! Fortunately the owl settled not too far away and I managed to quickly get a couple of snapshots. Snowy owls have a thick plumage and this is most likely a male as it is all white. Snowy owls also have big fluffy feet - but unfortunately I didn't get to see them. But hey I shouldn't complain!!

Snowy Owl, Bubo scandiacus - Cairngorm
 When I got home I posted my photographs on iSpot and this got a lot of positive comments and reinforced how lucky I had been to see a snowy owl in the UK. This lead to BBC Scotland contacting me and they published a newspaper article in the BBC New Highlands & Islands section. Recently when I was doing a bit more research about snowy owls I also came across this blog post on benvironment.

No its not a white blob - its a snowy owl - honest!
All this breaking news kind of made me feel quite privileged and I hope that we do get to see snowy owls in the UK again. Snowy owls normally inhabit arctic regions and are rarely sighted in the UK but as the newspaper articles above report they have been seen on the Western Isles and Shetland. Cairngorm is one of my favourite places and with the harsh arctic-like environment it is a shame we don't see more of these birds. But you never know - keep your eyes peeled and you never know what you might come across!

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