[Tweeters] Thanks for (most of)Sandy Point Snowy Owl corrections

tomboulian at comcast.net tomboulian at comcast.net
Wed Nov 15 21:40:45 PST 2017

Sorry that I did not record my town of residence last night on my post—don’t post often, so apologies.

Many people have responded; mostly not on tweeters, and mostly positively. Some—ah, not so much. So excuse the length of this post but I was offended.

Of course I know that snowy owls hunt during the day during breeding season, but my experience, which is only based on my own 7 observations of irruptive birds in the winter in the US over the last 50 years, is that they pretty much stay put during the day except when disturbed by animals, including birders and photographers, and that they take off around sunset and are back in place at dawn until they take off for a new physical location. The only one one I have ever seen eating during the day was a bird at Big Ditch near Stanwood sitting on a dead snow goose. And the blood splatters of happiness on an Edmonds WA marina bird.

My reasons for posting were not meant to belittle anyone or give out false info., just an attempt to give a light-hearted reminder to a growing crowd of owl-seekers, increasingly appearing to be from out of the area, that visits to these habitual owl roost sites have ended in problems in recent years, including on reservations. (Eide Rd long-ears, Boundary Bay snowies, Bridgeport hawk-owl

I was there on Nov 3, looking for primarily the ROSA but also the owl, since we were snowed out from work here in Seattle and Bellingham was already clear.

The e-bird and satellite maps showed a small park-like area at the point with a well-worn foot trail. When I arrived (finally, as there was construction on Slater Rd. and I had no smart phone with), I found the area to be labeled Private property. Another (local) birder assured me that access was OK, and obviously it was well used by local dog-walkers, so we proceeded around,, seeing not much terrestrial except meadowlarks, but tons of stuff off shore to the south—black and surf scoters, common loons, lots of mergansers and buffleheads. Super windy, so did not stay long

Then I attempted to find a way to see the “back bay”, and had two encounters with residents—one rapped on the window and identified himself with the local block watch, asking what I was doing, saying there was a string of burglaries recently. Another ran out of her house and asked the same question a few minutes later. I was in the public street all the time so was legal. I have a big landscaping truck and not the usual birder’s Subaru, so I’m sure that’s a flag. Once she found I was a birder, she said it was OK to walk to the back bay from either the dead-end street right of way or the water line/fire hydrant right of way.

Both residents told me there was NO public access to the ocean beach.

Several thousand birds on the back bay, including 500+ dunlin, 10 great blue heron, some TRSW, wigeons (including one storm), mallards, pintails, Canada geese, ring-neck duck, etc.

So, as I see more postings coming in..

1. Sandy Point is indeed private property (great if it could be a park)—you are indeed trespassing here as well as anywhere in the community that is not an extension of a public road or below mean tide line or without property owner’s/Lummi permission.

2. It appears I’m not so wrong about wintering Snowy Owl behavior

3. It’s always a good idea to talk to the natives—whether they are First Nations or relative newcomers, and drop a dime wherever you go.

4. Leave roosting owls in peace.

5. Mind your manners—be cognizant of where you are, whether it’s on terra firma or in cyberspace

Mark Tomboulian

Shoreline, WA

tomboulian at comcast dot net

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