Two birdwatchers were lucky enough to capture shots of notoriously shy snowy owls at rest, thanks to a rare natural event.
Steve Ash, 54, and his son Tyler, 26, had heard rumours that late December would see an irruption of snowy owls into southern Canada.
Irruptions, unpredictable and dramatic migrations of birds to areas they would not normally be, occur randomly.
Roughly every four years an irruption occurs which sees snowy owls arrive in southern Canada from their usual habitat in the Arctic tundra.
Having heard a rumour that an irruption was occurring from December 29th to December 30th, the father-and-son duo set out from their home in Ohio, eventually finding owls at rest near water at the Presqu’ile Provincial Park in Ontario.
Tyler said: “We travelled up to Ontario without much of a plan and we were lucky enough to witness the rare sight of the owls travelling so far southwards.
“It was extremely cold, so the owls spent a lot of time puffing up and sleeping. It was challenging to get good photographs, because for a good shot you have to see the birds’ eyes.”
The pair, who spent spent three days on their adventure, needed a lot of patience to photograph the creatures which are easily spooked by sound and movement.
Their biggest reward came on the final day just before they left for home.
Tyler said: “A friendly French-Canadian fellow who lived on the island said we should have been there a day earlier, when an owl had been perched in a tree we were standing directly underneath.
“Sure enough, as we were leaving, an owl swooped past us and landed in the tree. It was a massive stroke of luck but we managed to get some quick snaps.”
After a 400 mile, seven hour drive home through a blizzard, Steve had some words for nature photographers.
He said: “You have to respect wild animals. It’s OK to look at them and take pictures, but remember that by approaching their habitats you are in their home.
“If you get too close and startle them or make them fly away, you have changed their natural behaviour, and that’s not OK.”
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