With the invasion of the Snowy Owls this year, it was not really a surprise that there would be vagrants in some really unusual locations, but this bird really did it. It snuck into Dallas and hung around for several weeks before the birding community even found out about it. This first year bird has been “playing” with the night watchman of a marina on Lake Ray Hubbard for the past two weeks and nobody knew! The bird has a favorite light pole that she (as dubbed by those who know more than me) returns to on a regular basis. Eventually, somebody told somebody, who contacted somebody up north, who finally let the rest of the birding community of Texas know what gem they had in their midst. But enough about that, this is about celebrating the view of such a beauty.
I found out on Friday morning at 1:05 am that the bird had been seen all day by a photographer. Since I am off on Fridays and Saturdays, I made a decision to drive to Dallas the next morning. I got there at 1:00 pm, and there were almost no birders in the park at all. Amazing! So I made the rounds of the park and didn’t see the bird. Birders started coming in during that time and one group, the Dallas group set up shop across from the infamous telephone pole, and the Fort Worth contingent set up on the opposite side of the park, with a few of the birders scurrying back and forth between the two groups. No bird was seen all day, and everybody had a chance to sit and talk with birders from their respective home bases. I spent the afternoon talking with a number of birders, mostly from Houston, who wereintermixed with the Dallas crowd. When the bird was deemed a no show, I decided to stay over and see if the bird would come in on Saturday. I spent the evening with a couple of birders from Dallas.
The next morning, I showed up at 7:00, and the only other birder there was Carlton Collier, another Houston birder. We sat for several hours with minimal numbers of birders, then I went around the park to double check that the bird was not there. I had decided to check out a flock of sparrows, when another birder came and told me that he had heard that the owl was back! We headed straight for the parking lot where the bird had perched on a light pole on the opposite side of the parking lot from his favorite pole. I set up at a distance, as did all of the other birders, and proceeded to take pictures.
Eventually the bird decided to fly to its infamous perch and flew right over my head and set up shop at a more comfortable location. I turned around, started taking pictures, then noticed that I was closer to the bird than any of the other birders. I had not moved when the owl flew over, but I felt out of place and decided to give up my spot and move back with the other birders.
The owl found a spot that it was comfortable and preened herself and took a nap, periodically checking out the birds and birders.
There have been valid concerns about the welfare of this bird. Obviously, the long-term outlook for it is not good, but the concern about the effect of all the birders does not seem to be warranted. I watched this bird for over four hours and everybody was respectful of the owl’s space. Since it has chosen the parking lot of a restaurant and bar on a marina, it doesn’t seem to mind the activity around her. Obviously, if people are following her everywhere that she goes, it will be hard for her to hunt, but I believe that this bird probably hunted near where it roosted last night and came to digest its meal at a place where there were few birds to bother it. The only real responses I saw from outside stimuli were when some grackles flew overhead. The owl did not even respond when a Coke delivery truck pulled right under the light pole that it was on. It returned to the same location this morning after having gone through yesterday’s circus of birders, so I would not worry too much about the typical birdwatching activity affecting it.
The Snowy Owl has not been seen in a couple of weeks. There have however been TWO MORE different Snowy owls seen in the area! That makes three birds which is 33% of all of the recorded Snowy Owl sightings in Texas were seen this year! The other two birds were one day wonders, but there are pictures of at least one of them.Share on Facebook