Archive for December, 2013

Snowy Owls

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Snowy Owls (Bubo scandiacus) are one of the most majestic creatures in nature.  These  large owls live in the Arctic.  Most people seldom get the opportunity to view them in the wild.  This year we have a rare treat as more Snowy Owls than ever in the recent past have appeared.   This phenomenon is called an irruption and occurs every few years when the food supply, mainly lemmings, is too low to support the owl population in its home territory.   The owls often are stressed when they come South because of the long flight and seek places similar to their home like beaches and open fields to roost and hunt. Unlike most owls they can hunt during the day since the Arctic has 24 hours of daylight in the summer.  Several Snowy Owls have recently appeared in areas near me including Wilmington, Delaware; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and the coast of New Jersey.  Yesterday I had the opportunity to observe and photograph one owl at the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville, New Jersey, and another at Stone harbor Point, New Jersey. 

 

Snowy Owl at Forsythe NWR

Snowy Owl at Stone Harbor Point NJ

Snowy Owl in Flight

  

Conowingo Dam

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River.   That is most likely the best place on the East coast to view Bald Eagles in the late fall and early winter.   I was not disappointed although the day became cloudy in late morning.   Eagles of all ages visit  the dam, offering an easy comparison of different feather patterns of the first five years.   The dam is a huge cafeteria for the eagles with many fish stopping their trip upstream and others coming through the turbines, offering easy meals.   The morning did not have much action of eagles fishing but many were there, often flying overhead or sitting on the towers on the island.   The picture offered below is  a good view of a third year eagle in flight showing the dark upper breast band and patterns on the lower breast.  By the third year adult sized feathers have replaced the longer wing feathers of the first two years,  giving this age the size and shape but not the colors or patterns of an adult.

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