I spent a lot of time walking on West Dennis beach last week. It isn’t my favorite beach, but it is very close. I was a bit surprised by the numbers of people walking despite the cool and damp weather, but that was fine – I can share ;)
I always start off at the far eastern point of the beach and turn back at different places depending on my mood. On Wednesday, despite my late start (I worked all day), I decided to walk down to the jetty by the river’s mouth. I had noticed a lot of people in one spot, many with cameras, just a little beyond where I’d turned back the day before and so I decided to investigate.
Yep, there was a snowy owl in the dunes. It was pretty dark by then, but I watched it for a few minutes before it flew off.
I came back on Thursday, arriving perhaps 20 minutes earlier and went straight to the owl instead of walking to the end first. Sure enough, it was there with an attendant crowd. The dune is between the beach and the access road, so the audience was on both sides. I took a few photos… OK, a lot of photos.. then walked to the end. I stopped by when I was heading out and took more, even though it was dark.
Actually, it wasn’t that much lighter when I first saw it, so I was shooting at ISO 1000.
The next morning I was running down the access road and could see the owl on an ancient lifeguard stand in the dunes as I passed by. Cool! Later in the day I swung back around (driving down, not running ;) ), dragging my camera. There was some sun peeking through the clouds, so I was able to get slightly better shots. Or at least not as grainy.
When I first arrived, the owl fluffed up. Kind of cool.
Someone told me that there was at least one more owl on the beach, possibly two. I walked down the the jetty and stopped at random. Yep, I found the second owl. It was a bit more hidden, not super visible from all directions! It was also sleeping.
I didn’t stay long – I didn’t want to wake it.
On the way back I stopped at the owl on the lifeguard stand. It was preening. Cool. I took a few pictures, even though the light was no longer in my favor and went on my way. I didn’t return – I monopolized enough of the bird’s time.
That being said, the owl seemed to be totally unperturbed by the people around it. For the most part people respected it, not getting very close. There are trails through the dunes – the lifeguard stand is obviously on a major one – but people stayed on the edge of the dunes looking in.
Also, although I took many pictures of the owls face, most of the time it was facing away. Was it watching people on the road side? Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t think it minded my presence (“our presence” since it had many admirers), but I still didn’t want to disturb it too much, so I that is why I didn’t return.
Anyway, I felt lucky – I’ve never seen one! I took well over two hundred photos in six different visits to the two owls over two days, but remember, when it turned its head towards me, I might squeeze of ten shots in a row… I have about 25 “keepers” but will only bore you with these.
Anyway, this is also part of my weekly smile – seeing this beautiful bird, or these beautiful birds, since I saw two, was worthy of a huge smile :)
Can’t get enough of the owl? I posted a gallery with quite a few photos here.