Snowy Owl Magic

Hooper’s Island, MD.

I had pretty good directions to the Snowy Owl site the other day, and parked a couple of hundred yards short of the spot.
As I walked along the roadside, a school bus puled up alongside and the woman driver opened the door and asked, “Have you seen the Snow Owl yet”?
“No”, I said, and she wished me luck and drove off. All this at 7:00 AM.
There was a pickup parked near the spot, and I walked up to it, hoping to get some insight, and saw the owl about the same time. He was perched a hundred or so yards away on a small tree near the water. Then I met Ray.
Ray must be about 60. He looks more like a banker than the waterman he is. He was dressed neatly (Much neater than me) and had a neatly trimmed beard. He then proceeded to detail every move the bird had made for the last two weeks or more.
Ray is enamored of this owl. He pointed out each tree and piece of ground the bird occupied, listed his schedule and told of the other birders he’d met, and their reactions. I was able to give him some insight to the life and behavior of Snowy owls, and he was eager for every detail, including the recorded songs.
I’ve watched birds and fished for a very long time, and I know that connecting to nature is a large part of the attraction. Watching and listening to Roy’s animated story-telling reminded me of how amazing the whole experience can be, and was as rewarding as finding the owl at all.


Ray, the Owl man.

Snowy Owl 2018-3 Snowy Owl 2018-2 Snowy Owl 2018-1

Snowy Owl 2018-4

Snowy Owl.

Snowy Owl at Hooper’s Island.

I got a better location on the Hooper’s Island Owl, so I made the 80+ mile trek this morning and got a decent look. Not as good as I wanted, but ‘twil do.

There were many waterfowl in the water along the road and the bridge as well.

I made a couple of rounds at Blackwater also, but there wasn’t much to see.

Northern Shoveler 2018-10

Northern Shovelers are still present in good numbers.

Snow Goose 2018-22

Snow Goose 2018-23

There’s still a few hundred Snow Geese at Blackwater.

Canvasback 2018-20

This Canvasback was at Hooper’s Island.

Horned Grebe 2018-11

Many Horned Grebes were feeding near shore.

Horned Grebe 2018-10

This Horned Grebe is in breeding plumage.

Common Loon 2018-1

Several Common Loons were nearby as well.

Bufflehead 2018-32 Bufflehead 2018-31 Bufflehead 2018-30 Bufflehead 2018-29 Bufflehead 2018-28Bufflehead 2018-28

Bufflehead 2018-33

Many small flocks of Buffleheads were around.

Snowy Owl 2018-1

Snowy Owl 2018-2

I didn’t get as close as I wanted to this Snowy Owl.




Pileated Woodpecker at Quiet Waters Park.

We’ve had 3 days of high winds, which has kept me mostly at home. I did get out for a few hours, but it was hard to get decent images until today.

I was really hoping to see the season’s first Osprey, but that hasn’t happened yet.

I’ll settle for Pileateds and a few Waxwings.

Horned Grebe 2018-8

I found this Horned Grebe at Quiet Waters yesterday.

Cedar Waxwing 2018-1

A small flock of Cedar Waxwings was raiding the berries on this evergreen.

Red Breasted Merganser 2018-25

A small flock of Red Breasted Mergansers was cruising in the cove.

Pileated Woodpecker 2018-2 Pileated Woodpecker 2018-1

Pileated Woodpecker 2018-3

I heard at least two Pileated Woodpeckers today,.

Red Breasted Merganser at Hooper’s Island.

After 4 days of rain and fog, I was eager to get out. There was another report of as Snowy Owl at Hooper’s Island, so I went back to take a look. My bad luck continued.  I did find a nice Merganser to make the trip worthwhile.


Drive was a little barren with many fewer Snow Geese, but an increase in Tundra Swans. There were very few ducks, no terns and no sandpipers.

The eagles weren’t terribly active either. 

This Dark Eyed Junco was part of a flock at Quiet Waters.

An Eastern Bluebird.

I usually pass up Mourning Doves.

Only a few Northern Shovelers were present.

A lone Great Blue Heron was passing by.

Many Ruddy Ducks were resting at Quiet Waters.

I found this Horned Grebe at Quiet Waters.

I don’t see sitting Black Backed Gulls often.

Turkey Vultures often dry their wings like this.

Many Tundra Swans were resting in the marsh.

This Snow Goose stayed in one spot all the while I was there. It may be injured.

Red Winged Blackbirds were very numerous.

This American Wigeon was at Oakley Street.

A Lesser Scaup at Oakley Street.

This Mallard was stretching his wings.


This Red Breasted Merganser was fishing at the Hooper’s Island Bridge.

Horned Grebe at Hooper’s Island.

There was a Snowy Owl reported at Hooper’s Island, which is just a few miles from Blackwater, and I took a look this morning. By the time I got to Blackwater, the fog was so thick that I waited a while before heading to the Hooper’s Island bridge.

Alas, my lack of Snowy Owl luck continued, and I found only a few birds, and in poor light.

At Blackwater, there were thousands of Geese feeding in the surrounding fields, which gave some good photo opps.

Still the fog continued for quite some time, and the light never got really good. I’m including a few images from yesterday’s trip to Possum Point and Quiet Waters.

Bald Eagle 2018-23

You can usually find a Bald Eagle perched along Wildlife Drive.

Snow Goose 2018-19 Snow Goose 2018-18 Snow Goose 2018-17

Snow Goose 2018-20

I was able to get quite close to the large flock of Snow Geese.

Northern Shoveler 2018-8

Only a few Northern Shovelers were feeding in the marsh.

Great Blue Heron 2018-10

There were two Great Blue Herons standing in the shallow water.

Bufflehead 2018-24

I got this image just as this Bufflehead rounded the corner at Possum Point.

Black Backed Seagull 2018-1

You can usually find a Black Backed Seagull at Possum Point.

Red Breasted Merganser 2018-13

Red Breasted Merganser 2018-14

10-12 Red Breasted Mergansers were feeding near the point.

Canada Goose 2018-5

This Canada Goose was the only image I got at Quiet Waters.

Horned Grebe 2018-4

This Horned Grebe and two companions were foraging right under the bridge.

American Wigeon at Thomas Point Road.

I started at Quiet Waters this morning, and it was nearly dead. I went straight to Thomas Point, and it wasn’t any better, with only a few, distant birds.

I then stopped at my friend’s house, and got lucky.

Shortly after I arrived, they all started moving around, and I managed a few decent flight shots. A good morning.

I didn’t know I had the American Wigeon until I uploaded the images. There were a lot of birds, moving quickly.

Canada Goose 2018-5

This Canada Goose was the only image I got at Quiet Waters.

Mallard 2018-7

Mallard 2018-8

Several Mallards were travelling with the large flock of Canvasbacks.

Tundra Swan 2018-19 Tundra Swan 2018-18 Tundra Swan 2018-17

Tundra Swan 2018-20

There were 50 or so Tundra Swans.

Canvasback 2018-17

Canvasback 2018-18

There were a hundred or so Canvasbacks.

American Wigeon 2018-6

American Wigeon 2018-5

I didn’t know this was an American Wigeon until I uploaded the images. There were a lot of birds, moving quickly.


Belted Kingfisher at Bombay Hook NWR.

I made another long trip this morning, which isn’t my usual practice. It looked to be the last good weather day for a while, so I took advantage of the chance.

Eagle were plentiful which is unusual, and Geese and Swans were in good supply. The Kingfisher landed quite nearby, which is unusual.

There were more ducks than in recent visits, ‘though not as many as I’d like.

Northern Harrier 2018-1

I followed this Northern Harrier for a while, but never got really close.

Northern Pintail 2018-5

Northern Pintail 2018-3

A few Northern Pintails were foraging in the marsh.

Bufflehead 2018-21 Bufflehead 2018-22 Bufflehead 2018-20 Bufflehead 2018-19

Bufflehead 2018-23

There were more Buffleheads than on previous visits.

Bald Eagle 2018-19 Bald Eagle 2018-17 Bald Eagle 2018-18 Bald Eagle 2018-16 Bald Eagle 2018-15 Bald Eagle 2018-14 Bald Eagle 2018-13


Bald Eagle 2018-20

I don’t recall seeing as many Eagles on any previous visits.

Northern Shoveler 2018-7

There were a few Northern Shovelers in Bear Swamp Pool.

Snow Goose 2018-16

There were several hundred Snow Geese flying around.

Belted Kingfisher 2018-1

This Belted Kingfisher is a female, but you can’t tell from this image.

Hooded Merganser at Blackwater NWR.

We were promised sunny weather, so I made the trek to Blackwater this morning after several days of crummy weather. The weather was certainly good enough, but there were fewer birds than I had hoped.

Eagles, Geese and Swans dominated, but other species, like ducks. were not as numerous as in the past. I ventured further afield than usual, but had no luck.

Still, it was good enough, and I expect to make more trips soon.

Northern Shoveler 2018-6

I only found one pair of Northern Shovelers.

Great Blue Heron 2018-9

Several Great Blue Herons were standing guard in the marsh.

Snow Goose 2018-15

There were three different flocks of Snow Geese.

Red Winged Blackbird 2018-2

I found more Red Winged Blackbirds than usual.

Bald Eagle 2018-11

Bald Eagle 2018-12

This Bald Eagle flew off just as I approached.

Delmarva Fox Squirrel 30

Delmarva Fox Squirrel 29

I haven’t seen a Delmarva Fox Squirrel in quite a while.

Hooded Merganser 2018-24 Hooded Merganser 2018-22 Hooded Merganser 2018-21 Hooded Merganser 2018-20

Hooded Merganser 2018-23

There were only a few Hooded Mergansers, and they spooked easily, as usual.


Cooper’s Hawk at Blackwater NWR.

The weather guessers called for sunny, today, and it was:for about an hour, after which it was quite cloudy.

There were plenty of decent birds at Blackwater, but the poor light meant marginal images in some cases.

I made another stop at Oakley Street in hopes of some better images, and did OK.

Blackwater Dawn 45

Blackwater Dawn.

Tundra Swan 2018-16

There were 50 or so Tundra Swans.

Bald Eagle 2018-9

Bald Eagle 2018-8

Bald Eagles seem to getting more active as nesting season approaches.

Northern Flicker 2018-2

Northern Flicker 2018-1

Another nice surprise. Northern Flickers don’t often cooperate as well as this one did.

Great Blue Heron 2018-8

Several Great Blue Herons were fishing in the marsh.

Northern Shoveler 2018-5

Northern Shoveler 2018-4

Only a few Northern Shovelers were feeding in the marsh.

Common Merganser 2018-2

Common Merganser 2018-1

A dozen or so Common Mergansers were feeding in the marsh.

Snow Goose 2018-14

A couple of thousand Snow Geese are still hanging around.

American Wigeon 2018-4

I found this American Wigeon at Oakley Street.

Great Blue Heron 2018-7

Canada Goose 2018-4

There were hundreds of Canada Geese in the fields and on the water.

Cooper's Hawk 2018-1

This juvenile Cooper’s Hawk was a nice surprise, as I haven’t seen many hawks recently.



Greater White-fronted Goose at Lake Artemesia.

I met Graeme at Lake Artemesia this morning, and we made several circuits of the lake. A rare goose has been reported here a couple of times, and we found it right away, mixed with a flock of Canadian Geese. It’s not uncommon for odd species to mix with these geese, and I have looked many times, but this is one of the few times I found anything.

There were several interesting birds on the lake, but there was a lot of ice, also, which limited the places to search.

We walked along Indian Creek on the way out, and found a few passerines as we left.

Brown Creeper 2018-1

This Brown Creeper was a nice surprise.

Canada Goose 2018-2 Canada Goose 2018-3

Canada Goose 2018-1

We saw about 200 Canada Geese.

Hooded Merganser 2018-19

Two Hooded Mergansers were hiding in the large flock of Geese.

Ring Necked Duck 2018-2

There were 20 or more Ring-necked Ducks.

Bufflehead 2018-18

A single Bufflehead male was foraging near shore.

Mallard 2018-6

Many Mallards were feeding in the lake.

Chickadee 2018-1

Several Chickadees were playing along the trail.

Greater While-fronted Goose 2018-2

Greater While-fronted Goose 2018-1

Cornell: “Breeding across the tundra from Nunavut to Siberia, across Russia, and in Greenland, the Greater White-fronted Goose has one of the largest ranges of any species of goose in the world. In North America, however, it is common only west of the Mississippi River, where it is found in large flocks in wetlands and croplands.”

Graeme Simpson 17

Graeme was dressed for the weather.