The best trip, is the unexpected trip!
My husband saw a story about Snowy Owls in a local documentation, and brought me home a copy of the paper on Thursday the 22nd. After thoroughly enjoying the story, I began searching the internet on information about the Snowy Owl Irruption of 2012, and where they could be found. I was in luck, as Poulson, Montana was listed as one of the top locations to view these animals - and Poulson was only 3 hours away!! We left Saturday morning -
I was worried that the Owls had already left, since the first sighting was back in December, and they fly back to the Arctic in March... but after talking to the local Chamber of Commerce, I learned that the Owls were still there, and found in a concentrated area. Four were spotted that day, and fourteen the day before! I hadn't missed my opportunity, and was sooo excited to see one sitting on the Water Tower in Poulson as we reached our destination!
I photographed him non-stop from the moment I saw him, since he was the only Owl there. At one point, he got spooked and flew over to the Housing Development located on the same hill as the Water Tower. It was then, that my husband and I started noticing all the owls sitting on rooftops! Wow!! Not the best photo opportunity, but talk about an incredible sight!
I must say, that it was awkward for me to photograph rooftops of strangers houses! But seeing others out taking photo's as well, seemed to make it okay. Under different circumstances, I probably would have been arrested - thank goodness the Poulson Community is so nice! We drove through the development at least 4 times during our stay. I found that they were very active at dusk - flying to and from rooftops and each other. However, when we stopped around 8AM the next morning - we counted 14 total owls!
We found them sitting in gardens, on top of decking on people's back porches, and even found one sitting on what seemed to be the only patch of snow left on the ground. The opportunity to photograph a snowy owl was incredible! I've only been able to photograph one other owl before, so I was so excited to get so many photo's! The image below was a personal favorite, as he was facing the other direction, but I was able to capture him after he turned his head directly backwards - looking right back at me!
Unfortunately, as a scenic photographer, I don't get the option to choose the setting in which I shoot all the time. Although the setting was not preferred, I made the best of what I had and was pleased with a couple of shots. The one below is probably one of the only ones I was able to capture that allowed me to photograph the owl on a rooftop, but gives the feeling of a natural setting.
As we were heading down the hill on our way back to Idaho, I was slightly saddened that I wasn't able to capture any in a natural setting. I'm a stickler when it comes to man-made objects in my photo's. Power lines, houses, cars, highways... not so attractive when you want to capture a natural feel to a photo. We were 1/2 down the hill when this little white object stood out next to me in a field on a stack of rocks... I cannot tell you how excited I was to find it to be a Snowy Owl.
As we got closer to the owl, we could see he was feeding on a rodent of some kind. He didn't seem to worried about us, and sat on his rock observing us. He seemed interested by the clicking of my camera, which allowed me to capture some great shots!
I cannot tell you how many times I thanked my husband for bringing me home that publication! What a great opportunity, an once in a lifetime experience!