We have seen snowy owls at Sachuest National Wildlife Refuge in years past, but this year was a little over the top in making it easy for us to view the winter resident. As we drove up to the Refuge, we saw a line of cars parked, with people standing all over the parking lot. Right at the crest of the visitor’s center building, the snowy posed, in clear view. At Sachuest in February, it’s all about the owls.
Looking first one way, then the other, he appeared quite aware of the fuss he was creating, yet apparently unbothered. After getting some photos, we headed out on the loop trail that takes visitors along the shoreline of this rocky outcrop that juts out into the ocean. The trail itself is quite easy, a mostly flat, crushed stone path, with a few muddy spots where the recent rain was draining into the walkway.
Just off shore we spotted both Canada geese and Brandt geese, the Brandts easily spotted since they are much smaller, while still very goose-like in shape.
Lots of eider ducks floated just off shore, and surf scoters lived up to their name as they scooted about. The light shifted enough for us to finally get some good looks at the harlequin ducks busily feeding on the rocky bottom.
When we returned to the visitor center, the snowy had not moved far. But the scenery below continued to shift as large groups of folks drove up, pulled out their cameras then headed off in search of ??? who knows?
The snowys will be headed north soon, so if you haven’t gotten to see them, you may have to wait till next winter. That, or plan a trip to the Arctic!
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then.