About a month or so ago, Eli came in from the yard and said “Mom, what bird would be all white with brown spots?” The only bird I could think of was a snowy owl, but we are way too far South of their normal range, so I dug out my Peterson guide and went through the entire thing. The only all-white bird with brown spots was the owl. Asked Eli: what shape head and beak? “I don’t know, it was flying away from me.” Then a few days later on NPR there was a report of many Snowy Owl sightings in Maine this winter…. and we had one in our yard, and I had missed it.
Snowy Owl at Clarry Hill, Union, Maine
Then my friend Kathy told me she had SEEN the snowy owls at Clarry Ridge in Union, about 12 miles from our house, and told me how to get up to the ridge, which by the way is freakin’ unbelievably gorgeous blueberry barrens with a 360 view that goes for miles and miles and miles. So after a wonderful lunch with Gail and Louisa at Boynton McKay in town, I decided to explore and hope for the best.
The blueberry barrens are this incredible russet color in autumn and winter. There is SO a blueberry barrens quilt in my future. And maybe dyeing fabric. Soon. We are lucky to look out from our house (about 8 miles as the crow flies from here) and see barrens on the hill opposite.
Clarry Hill is apparently part of the Medomak Nature Preserve , and it is in the middle of a hilltop of blueberry barrens. I wasn’t a hundred yards up the path that I was taking pictures of the late afternoon light picking up the incredible colors of the barrens:
How GLORIOUS is this color? Looking to the west-northwest to Appleton and Union. I want to dye fabric these colors…..
It was so glorious I didn’t mind that I didn’t see an owl. Then on my way back to the car I saw a woman with binoculars scanning and she had a camera hanging around her neck, too, so I asked her if she was there for the owl. And she pointed one out to me…at that point s/he (the owl) was behind me to the left:
See that white spot in the tree? That’s my first view of the snowy owl! Gotta go log that into the margins of my Roger Tory Petersen guide!
I took several photos, had a lovely chat with Hilda L. from South Hope, then headed back to the car after taking MORE photos of the blueberry barrens. Talk about wanting to head straight to the dye-pots! Anyway, I get in the car and start backing out when out of the corner of my eye I see movement: a snowy owl (Hilda told me there are at least two and possibly three up there) landed in the tree just up from the parking spot! So I took a bunch of photos, then moved down the drive a bit and took MORE photos. And was lucky to snap the owl stretching his/her wings a couple of times!
From the small parking area (on bare rock at the end of a short dirt road), I caught sight of the owl. I had to use digital as well as optical zoom so these aren’t terribly high res photos, but WHO CARES?
I sat there long enough that the owl started moving its wings–just getting comfortable I guess as it didn’t take off. I LOVE having digital instead of film because I can take a bazillion photos and luck into a couple like these!
How AWESOME are those wings?
I inched down the dirt road a bit to see if I could get an angle for a shot that didn’t have twigs between me and the bird. Here’s the view from the care before zooming:
From the road looking up the hill with the lens at wide angle setting. Isn’t Maine beautiful?
More flapping…I LOVE seeing the wings!
And just a bit more flapping…look at his floofy legs!
And I’ll confess to a little photoshop to lighten the shadows on this one. The owl was backlit by the setting sun, so I lightened the shadows.
This has been a glorious day: order for a pattern this morning, some artwork and art lessons, lunch with friends, Joshua calls me and wants to see me because he got a haircut (photo on Facebook timeline), I see Ashley (his girlfriend) because she works where we went to lunch and when I went to pay she hands my card back to me and says no, I took care of it (THANK YOU you sweet thing, you totally do not need to do that!), ran a couple errands, saw the owl, got great photos, then get home to a pair of sandals I ordered from Zappos (they are green, how could I resist) AND a new duvet cover—we’ve had one new duvet cover in about the past 15 years, so I figure we’re due, and it was on sale, and I love it and it totally cheers up the bedroom. So I am HAPPY! Here’s to you being happy, too! Life is GOOD!