Archive for April, 2012

They arrived quietly. Locals said around Thanksgiving. But word did not spread until Christmas. The snowy owls were back in the Mission Valley and in abundance. It was six years since the last irruption of snowy owls (the large migration of snowy owls to points further south than their normal winter range) in the Mission Valley so it wasn’t to be missed. And it wasn’t. People came from across Montana and well beyond to view the owls who spent their days on the roofs of houses in a hilltop residential area overlooking Flathead Lake to the north and the the Mission Valley to the south. These owls know prime real estate.

The hilltop attraction helped a local tourist economy that is active in the summer but completely dormant in the winter. Once again demonstrating that the extraction isn’t the only fiscal value of the natural world. Its mere presence draws people and therefore their dollars.

I photographed these owls for at least a dozen days. Beginning shortly before Christmas and ending on this prior Tuesday (April 24th). On Tuesday evening, alone by myself, I photographed the two remaining owls at sunset as they preened and stretch in preparation for a night of hunting. As was their routine, they set off right as the sun hit the distant mountains to the west. My last sight was the second of the two owls gliding over a hillside and disappearing below. The next day reports from birders were that no owls were spotted. Again the next day. Until the next irruption.

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My Pelicans of White Rock Lake post is the first in a series of catching up posts. This Winter, which is increasingly looking like I can put in the past tense but living in Montana I dare not, I was very busy editing images which meant I fell behind on the social media aspects of the job. I hope to rectify that in the coming weeks as I catch up on a very busy year. This entry comes from my trip to the Grand Tetons, which coincided with the moose rut. I hope you enjoy.

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