Snowy Owls In Trees, Evening Walks at Boundary Bay

March 7, 2012 — 8 Comments
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I had never understood how rare the appearances of snowy owls were to the Boundary Bay marshlands, near Vancouver, Canada. Every four or five years, the lemming population in the Arctic declines, and the owls travel south to find food, sometimes as far as Northern California. The snowy owls visited Boundary Bay during the winter of 2011/12, with the first sightings back in December. With all the press and word-of-mouth, the area got quite crowed. One sunny Saturday in early February had about 70 people watching and photographing owls. Some even traveled from the United States. I have now visited Boundary Bay on eight occasions to see the snowy owls, and every time, I marvel at these beautiful creatures.

The snowy owl is the largest of the North American owls, and can be up to two feet, or 60 centimeters, high. They are nocturnal hunters and eat lemmings, other birds, small hares, and moles and other rodents. Whether the owls reproduce at all is dependent on the availability of lemmings and other food in the Arctic. For more information on the snowy owl, please visit this page by Think Quest. CBC.ca also had a news story entitled, Snowy owls flock south to B.C. for rare appearanceOn this post, I’ll look back at my evening walks, and focus on the times that I saw a snowy owl in the trees. Thus, the name of this post: Snowy Owls In Trees.

Before I get to the snowy owls, this is Boundary Bay. In the distance is Mount Baker, located in northern Washington State. The marshlands of Boundary Bay are approximately 25 kilometers south of downtown Vancouver. They are important as resting and feeding grounds for migrating birds along the Pacific Flyway. The marshlands are protected and designated as a Hemisphere Reserve and Important Bird Area (IBA).

Photo of Mountain, Baker USA, Pacific ocean blue sky, Delta, BC

 

Signs advise people to stay out of the marshlands, but that doesn’t stop many photographers from wandering in for a closer photo. Most of the owls can easily be seen from the dike path, however, those on logs or stumps always garner more attention. During my visits, the owls seemed relaxed and didn’t move much, unless startled. Many of them perch or sit for hours within 10 meters from the path, while shyer ones found a spot farther in the marsh. The most owls I counted on one visit was 18.

Photo of Photographers, marshlands, snowy owl, Ocean, clouds, Ladner BC

 

I know this owl isn’t really in a tree but I thought I’d include it anyway as a preview. Snowy Owls on Logs and Stumps will be future blog posts. This was taken from the path.

Photo of Snowy owl facing, blue sky, Marsh, stump, clouds, Boundary Bay, B.C. Canada

 

This tree and owl were in the adjacent Kings Links golf course.

Photo of Snowy owl, blue sky, trees, clouds, Boundary Bay, B.C. Canada

 

A prominent tree over a kilometer away from the parking lot and most of the crowds. In all of my walks, I have only seen an owl here this one time.

Photo of Snowy owl facingBack, blue sky, trees, clouds, Ladner BC

 

Photo of Snowy owl Side view, blue sky, trees, clouds, Delta, B.C

 

Photo of Snowy owl facing, blue sky, trees, clouds, Boundary Bay, B.C. Canada

 

This was on another evening in late February. A friend and I were walking along the dike when a photographer in the marsh startled an owl that proceeded to fly right toward us, and land on this tree beside the path. Again, I have never seen another owl in these particular trees. We were very excited, and felt fortunate to witness this owl so close.

Photo of Facing ahead, tree, clouds, blue sky, Vancouver, Canada

 

Photo of Snowy owl, speckled, clouds, tree, blue sky, Boundary Bay, B.C. Canada

 

Photo of Snowy owl , blue sky, trees, clouds, Boundary Bay, B.C. Canada

Sunset Snowy Owl in Tree Boundary Bay Delta

 

Photo of Snowy owl facing, blue sky, trees, clouds, Boundary Bay, B.C. Canada

 

As I wrote earlier, these are truly beautiful creatures.

Photo of Snowy owl facing, blue sky, trees, clouds, Boundary Bay, B.C. Canada

 

The Kings Links golf course with Grouse Mountain in the background. Vancouver is one of the rare locations in the world where you can play golf and ski on the same day. Photo of Mountain, fairway, trees, golf course, ski Hill, Ladner, BC

 

As I drove away, the sunset on farmland at the edge of Boundary Bay.

Photo of Farmland, reflection, orange sky, clouds, birds, Ladner BC

Thanks for joining me as I looked back at my memorable evening visits with the snowy owls. Please also check out my post, A Snowy Owl and Mount Baker, Boundary Bay, for more photos from another special visit to Boundary Bay.

If you have my book, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, or have ordered it, I really appreciate your support. It’s also out on Kindle and Kobo. My Goodreads and Amazon pages have reviews and more information. Please share this post, and thanks for your time.




About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.

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8 responses to Snowy Owls In Trees, Evening Walks at Boundary Bay

  1. Your photos of the snowy owls are really beautiful. I would love to see a bird like that in person.

    • Thanks Kate. I never tired seeing the snowy owls here. It’s warm today, and I don’t imagine they’ll be around much longer. I heard that there are sightings as far south as Texas. The climate is sure changing. Thanks again for your comment.

  2. Just beautiful photographs!! Thanks for sharing

    • Thanks, I really appreciate that. Sometimes, I need to take a break from the Camino de Santiago and look back at small journeys I had closer to my home. Seeing the snowy owls so close was very special.

  3. I love your pictures and the snowy owls are magnificent. I can see I need to get out more and go check out the our beautiful corner of the world. Thanks for these, Randall. I look forward to getting your book in the middle of next week. That must have been one heck of a journey!

    • Thanks so much. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I’m sure I have enough for at least two more blog posts. I’ve lived in Vancouver for most of my life and this is the first year I’ve gone to see the owls. I think I made eight trips this year. I don’t know if the snowy owls are still at Boundary Bay, but I recommend everyone seeing them if you have an opportunity.

  4. Beautiful images, but one correction. While most owls are nocturnal (night) hunters, snowy owls are primarily diurnal (daytime) hunters. They also hunt during crepuscular (twilight) periods. Of course, being from the high arctic, summer time has much longer days and winter much longer nights, so these terms can get a bit blended!

    Mike.

    • Thanks Mike. Glad you clarified the information. I know I picked it up from a page online. That makes a lot of sense, especially as the seasons change. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope to have another snowy owl post soon 🙂

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