Snowy Owl of Florida
Florida’s Snowy Owl
A Snowy Owl has invaded the State of Florida this year spending much of her time on Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville Florida. Once the bird was seen and word got out, hundreds of people and photographers descended up the island for a chance to see and photograph her. I took a Trip up there, a three hour drive and traveled all over the Huguenot Memorial Park as was the last location of the owl. Up and down the beach looking all over in and around the dunes but it just wasn’t there and it was disappointed as the owl did not show. It was my understanding that some hawks chased it over to Mayport Navy base.
I planned a second trip up to Little Talbot island and was more successful, but not at first. It was a cold very windy day and the Snowy Owl could not be located. I was walking up and down with fellow p hotographers, talking to people asking if they had seen the owl, but no one had.
I headed back to the car to check on my wife and dog as the cold and windy weather was making things tough. I told her I was going to head down the beach in a southerly direction. As I started down the beach I noticed some other birds scurrying along the be ach so I decided if the owl wasn’t going to show then I would shoot the other wildlife on the island. I setup and photographed a sanderling. When I finished and started on down the beach, I must have startled the Snowy Owl as he took off from the beach right in front of me and flew back up the beach. I had no chance to shoot him as he passed over me. However other photographers were able to capture her flying by. I turned around and head back up the beach trying to find her in the dunes. After traveling a ways up the beach I noticed a group aggressively assembling in an area way up the beach starring into the dunes. I put it in high gear and marched up the beach picking up a fellow photographer and we charged up the beach. There he was, a lifer for me as I had never seen one before. Looking at the bird I was in awe. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Looking around the group of photographers were getting larger by the minute and th e cameras were clicking off shot after shot as you could hear the shutters going off over the wind one after the other. The owl started to preen and as a rule of thumb if a bird preens s they will be taking off shortly. So once the crowd got larger the owl seemed to sense that it was time to move, so she flew off further up the beach deeper into the dunes making it tougher to get good photos. I was a great day for me as I was able to get some good photos of a beautiful bird and one that probably will never see Florida again.
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