Owls are awesome. Big white owls from the high arctic are super awesome. Really, Snowy Owls are practically mythical creatures for me. So when multiple Snowy Owls started showing up along Connecticut's coast this past week, I couldn't not go to the beach and try to see one. (I didn't take advantage of the last Snowy Owl invasion, in 2011, and I wasn't going to let the current invasion pass me by!)
I went to Milford Point yesterday morning with my spotting scope in tow. This tool turned out to be absolutely essential, because while no big arctic birds were in range of my binoculars on the beach or in the marsh, the scope picked out a suspicious white and gray shape aaaaallll the way out on a rocky breakwater far offshore. It was tiny and distant, but I watched it turn its round white face and preen under its gray-barred wings. Yay, Snowy Owl!! There was no way my actual camera could reach that far, so I took some blurry photos through the scope with my phone:
Look, an owl! See it? ...How about now?
OK, so yes, it was really far away, but I watched this awesome (tiny) creature for a good long while nonetheless. This was a rare encounter indeed, and even this less-than-perfect view was still extremely exciting. I love that these creatures exist. :) And you never know, maybe I'll get a chance to see another Snowy Owl this winter if they keep showing up and hanging around.
Other big white birds were haunting this beach during my visit, too. Mute Swans are non-native, but they sure are impressive (and I still just cannot get over the color of that marsh grass):
One pair of swans was settled on the beach, and they didn't seem to care when I walked by. Pretty bird:
Their necks are so fuzzy, and so collapsible when it's time to rest:
A male Northern Harrier was hunting along this beach as well. I don't think I've ever seen a male harrier before, and now I understand why they're often described as "ghostly." This bird's gray and white costume fit well with the overall gray day:
All these big white and gray creatures definitely made for an awesome trip to the beach!