Date: 3/3/17 6:18 pm From: Steve Bennett <sbennett999...> Subject: [NHBirds] Newport GREAT GRAY OWL Update, Friday 7PM
Today, Friday, was another great day spent in the company of the Great Gray Owl in Newport, NH and 75 of his most dedicated admirers (75 that I counted, I'm sure there were many more before I arrived). There were cars from all over New England, NY & even Pennsylvania, and a lot of locals came by to see what the buzz in their small town is all about.
I arrived at 1:00PM to find 17 other birders / photographers set-up and watching the owl as it sat quietly on a low branch at the far northwest edge of the hay field. That number swelled to a group of 55 at one time and many people had already come and gone.
I was told that the owl was found on this branch at 7:00 AM, and there he patiently sat until 4:30 PM. The bright sun and mostly windless conditions offered some great viewing and photo opportunities, but as one photographer muttered late in the afternoon "I've taken over 600 pictures today, but they are all the same", which just about sums up daytime owl photography in general. After all, most owls are crepuscular or nocturnal so they do exactly what this owl has been doing during the past 3 days, nothing.
It was a good time to study the owl, get a bunch of owl portrait pictures & catch up with friends. There were several scopes set-up which offered dramatic close-up views of our rare visitor and I saw a couple sketching the owl.
An adult Bald Eagle did a tree-top level fly-by right over the owl which gave everyone some photo ops and something to talk about for a few minutes.
Dylan Jackson pointed out several Horned Larks calling as they flew overhead but the Northern Shrike reported here on Thursday was not seen today.
As with the past 3 days, at about 4:00 PM he started to get noticably antsy. After what seemed like a long wait, he did a 180-degree hop-turn on the branch and suddenly took off like a bullet across the field, passing close-by several of us at about belt-high, and then landed nearby high up in a tree along the edge of the field.
He worked his way south along the tree-line, offering nice off and on flight views for about 15 minutes. It was getting pretty dark and a strong snow squall came in out of nowhere, making it clear that it was time to leave our little buddy alone and for all the freezing owl lovers to go somewhere and get warm again.
If you intend to go to see him on Saturday remember to dress warm as the high of the day is predicted to be about 8, and the wind is suppossed to be strong. Your hands & feet get cold real quick standing out in that field, but enjoy the view and this rare opportunity !