[Tweeters] A First Visit to See the Ballard Snowies - 1/22/13
barbdeihl at comcast.net
Wed Jan 23 18:30:55 PST 2013
When, by surprise, some sun and blue sky forced the fog to recede a bit in the Seattle area in early afternoon, I just HAD to get outside and go look for some Big Birds. Too late to go north to Stanwood, Fir Is. and beyond, but perfect for checking out the birds and the scenes above and down at Shilshole Bay. I got over to the Sunset Hill area a little after 3:30 p.m. - checked some rooftops and a few high trees, but it was the handful of people with birding optics that drew my attention to the corner of 74th and 33rd. I felt lucky to have shown up on a day when both Snowy Owls were visible from the same corner, each on its own conifer! It was a pleasant group of visitors that came and went - things were fairly quiet, and no one had any need to trespass or otherwise disturb the neighbors or the birds. It reminded me of the gatherings that have formed in some of the Seattle-area Merlin neighborhoods I've been to in the past 5 years. An undercurrent (oh, I guess sometimes it was an OVERcurrent) of excitement and interest pervaded the scene - folks shared observations, photos and information. I was glad to see a couple faces from the past (even from the 2008 Merlin season !) and from recent email communications about the Ballard Snowies.
At around 4 p.m. the westernmost owl (I've called it Owl B) started moving a bit, readying itself for an exit toward the park, 2 blocks away. Most of us missed its departure flight, so a few people raced over toward the park, while some of us stayed to see when the other owl (Owl A) would follow suit. This one also beat a quick retreat - not as much warning as the other other had given - I watched it fly around toward the park via 75th, and then I went over to 34th and saw that one of the owls was perched on the very top of another conifer, looking much like an ornament on the top of a Christmas tree. By the time I set up to try for a photo, this owl eluded my attempt and flew on down toward the water below the park.
A few watchers hung around and found both owls down on the breakwater - I was never able to see either, except in someone's photo. The owls' coloration helped them blend in with the rocks and they looked amazingly tiny down there, even smaller than those white blobs out on the Thomle Rd. field and dike. It is certainly worth being up on the hill to see these Snowies before they go hunting - good views often abound.
My Flickr photoset of these owls before and the Shilshole background during, sunset, can be viewed at:
North Matthews Beach - NE Seattle
barbdeihl at comcast.net
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