Snowy Owl Eruption

Snowy Owl

This morning Ingrid and I piled in the car and headed for Newton, Massachusetts for a birthday party for her Dad.    We were both looking forward to seeing Art . . . and to make the trip even more exciting . . . we had time to stop at Plum Island!!!!

Plum Island is a 11 mile peninsula off of Newburyport, MA that incorporates beaches, sand dunes, salt marshes, salt pans and maritime forest.  It is a migrant trap in the fall/spring migration with roadside shrubs dripping with warblers.  In the summer it is a cross section of New England nesting birds and in winter it is filled with water fowl, raptors and some times . . . Snowy Owls.

We arrived about 9:30 and started scanning the salt pans for anything unusual and after about 5 minutes (and a couple false positives) I spotted a Snowy perched on some marsh scrub a 100 yards out.   We were having a great time watching him when another birder pulled up (there were dozens of us) and told us there was another one in a pine tree just off the road just a quarter mile away.

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Sure enough we watched this fellow, from only 20 feet away . . . stunning.

A little later a Northern Harrier flew right in front of the car; then we were able to scope in a Rough-legged Hawk (dark morph) and get a close up view of a Red-tailed Hawk.

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We were unable to drive to the end of the peninsula (the dirt road gets a bit mushy in the winter) so we parked at the Hellcat Dike and hiked in to see what we could see.   

There, while we were watching six Mute Swans sunning themselves on a frozen pond, a flock of Snow Buntings zoomed across the pond and looped around us and then disappeared.  Very exciting!!!!

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After our brief 90 minute visit we bid Plum Island adieu and headed for the party . . . with six FOY birds and the warm glow one gets from a day of birding.

On the way out we spotted our third Snowy Owl of the day . . . I had heard that this is a Snowy Owl eruption year . . . today seemed to confirm that.


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