By Vicki Jauron
A GREAT SEASON FOR SNOWY OWLS ON LONG ISLAND
The 2017/2018 winter will certainly be the largest irruption season for snowy owls since 2013/2014. An irruption refers to populations of animals moving beyond their normal territories. For Snowy Owls a large irruption is related to a good year for lemmings the previous summer up in the Arctic. The lemmings are the owl’s primary prey, and when they are plentiful, the well-fed Snowy Owls lay more eggs than normal. The plentiful food also means that more of the owlets will survive and this results in increased competition for food which in turn causes some of the younger owls to search out new territories. An easy to read and interesting e-book on this natural cycle and the 2013/2014 irruption in particular is “Snowy Owl Invasion!, Tracking an Unusual Migration by Sandra Markle. Here’s the link on Google Play. Google Play
But whatever phenomenon brings them down to our beaches, it is truly magical to have some of these beauties spend their winter with us.
This year started out very slow for me though. While everyone else was seeing an owl practically every time they ventured out, I had logged about 80,000 steps on the beach and not a single owl. While I was never disappointed with my outing – there is always something to marvel at in nature – I was beginning to feel like a failure. But I persevered and my first sighting just before Christmas was magnificent. The owl flew within about 10 feet of me as she went off to terrorize a squirrel on the beach. After that, things opened up for me and I had some amazing opportunities to capture our Snowy Owl friends in various situations.
I know that many of you have also captured some amazing images of the Snowy Owl this year and congratulations to those who have been able to see and photograph them for the first time! Here are some of my images taken this past winter. Most were taken in early morning light with a Nikon D500 and 200-500 mm lens, handheld.
May our Snowy friends have a wonderful breeding season up north and we look forward to having more of these beauties grace our beaches next winter!
As a group of wildlife lovers, we know that no photograph is worth jeopardizing the well-being of the animal whether intentional or not. Our enthusiasm for the Snowy Owl should never cause us to flush or endanger this bird. We should always follow ethical field practices and educate others who may not understand that their actions could result in harm to the wildlife or their environment. Here are the Ethical Field Practices as laid out by the North American Nature Photographers Association. https://www.nanpa.org/wp-content/uploads/Ethical-Field-Practices-Revised-3-2018. Let’s all become familiar with and follow these guidelines out in the field.
To see more of Vicki’s amazing work check out her website Babylon and Beyond Photography.
More Images on Pages 2,3,4, and 5