Jim Salge Photography Blog

Images of New England captured in dramatic light and atmosphere

Snowy Owl Revisited (and Revisited)

Until this winter, I had never seen a snowy owl. These large, beautiful birds live in the far arctic regions of Canada, and only come down to this area in rare winters, so it’s not surprising that I’ve never seen one. With the owl irruption this year though, I could perhaps consider it rare to visit the coastline without seeing at least one owl.

The influx of owls has been well documented both around New England, and around the nation, and these birds have been garnering a ton of attention. I was fortunate to get some shots of the birds at Hampton Beach before they became an attraction, as getting a shot going forward is going to become increasingly difficult due to the crowds of observers.

Owl on a Distant Rooftop from Hampton Beach

Owl on a Distant Rooftop from Hampton Beach

Wildlife photography is a touchy thing. It required a large amount of time, a great deal of patience, and some rather specialized equipment. The less specialized your equipment, the more time and patience you need to get the shot. You have to slowly earn an animals trust, and move slowly in until you get the shot, being careful never to cause the animal any stress. I’ve been putting in the time for sure, probably gaining about two dozen trips to see the owls, and witnessing some great behavior…hunting, resting, flying and once witnessed two owls sparring mid air.

However, with other folks around, I generally consider it rude to slide in towards the owl while others are enjoying the sight of it, or getting their shots with far more specialized glass. This has limited my ability to get shots, and has honestly changed my mindset when visiting the birds, back to the purest form of being a naturalist. I’ve been observing, watching, asking questions, and getting great answers from the more experienced birders in the state, who are there every weekend.

Watching and experiencing nature is why I became a photographer, as I wanted to share and inspire and protect. Some experiences are tough to share, but are the type of experiences that have been instrumental and formative in my desire to photograph. Perhaps, it’s important for everyone to know that as well as my photographs convey an approximate reality, there’s nothing like being there yourself!

One Response to “Snowy Owl Revisited (and Revisited)”

  1. Jon Winslow says:

    Nicely written Jim, it was nice meeting you in search of the Owls and hopefully there will be more rarities to see and appreciate soon.

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