Sunday, February 26, 2012

A break from the tundra

Since the beginning of January, I've been itching to get out to Boundary Bay to get sight of the snowy owls.  This year has seen record-breaking sightings of the number of owls at Boundary Bay.  Up to 30 have been seen at once.  These irruptions, as they're called, can happen every four to seven years, when owls will move south from their normally tundra-based homeland in the arctic to test the populations of voles, lemmings and other small mammals further south.

My excitement built as we drove down 72nd street in Delta, as we saw about six eagles perched right next to the road, some on trees, other on telephone poles.

...and even more in the sky (six in this photo).

At the end of a muddy road, a long line of parked cars indicated that there were still owls to be found past the dyke.

Once on the dyke, finding the owls are as easy as following the gazes of long-lensed photographers.  The owls sit patiently, maybe 40 feet away.

Despite the prominent signage warning against doing so, many felt compelled to get their prized photograph by meandering onto the marshland.  Others watched silently as their kids clamored over the logs to get so close to the owls that they flew off, much to the dismay of the photographers watching from the dyke.

Today, we saw about six owls easily viewable from the dyke.  Wildlife viewing doesn't get much easier than this.