A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Snow in June? Snowy Owl makes landfall on Anglesey!!

Snowy Owl is a bird I’ve wanted to see in Britain since I was very young, having made a small “Owls in the UK” checklist complete with little photographs to tick off each species as I saw it – Snowy Owl sitting right at the bottom with “VAGRANT” written next to it.

Fast forward several years with all owls now ticked off (even European Scops making it on to the list!) just Snowy Owl remained, with a big blank square sitting next to its name.

Having never made it to either the Cairngorms, Scilly Isles or East Anglia over recent times to twitch the long-staying birds that set up home there, it was therefore a bit of a surprise and a stroke of good luck and timing when reports of a Snowy Owl seen on Anglesey came trickling in on a Friday afternoon back in June. Showing well all afternoon on Point Lynas coastal path, as soon as the first photos of confirmation came through on Twitter I left work early to try and connect, beating the rush hour traffic and picking up Alex en-route.
Snowy Owl, Anglesey
Snowy Owl!
Snowy Owl, Anglesey
Point Lynas, Anglesey
Making good time and arriving mid-afternoon, we were unfortunately met with the news it had just this second flown over the brow of the hill and lost to view – horrendous bad luck on our part! Thankfully we didn’t have long to wait for a reappearance, as after just a tense 5 minute wait the owl was refound further along the track, being harassed by one of the local Buzzards but standing it’s ground and sitting serenely amongst the gorse.
Snowy Owl, Anglesey
Snowy Owl, Anglesey
Setting up our scopes (my ankles getting slashed to pieces in the process by the local plant life – ankle socks were NOT a good idea) we were able to get great and prolonged views as this majestic arctic owl sat peacefully on a patch of rocky ground, turning its head regularly and blinking obliviously at its small crowd of admirers.
Snowy Owl, Anglesey
Snowy Owl, Anglesey
Snowy Owl, Anglesey
Snowy Owl, Anglesey
Normally a far arctic species much more at home in the Canadian, Greenland or Russian expanses, 2018 has seen a bit of a mini influx of Snowy Owls in to the UK, with individuals of this stately owl recorded in locations such as Shetland, Orkney, the Outer Hebrides, Gwent, Gwynedd, Lincolnshire/Norfolk, the Scilly Isles and Pembrokeshire to name a few.
https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Bubo-scandiacus
The normal range of Snowy Owls
And the latest sightings in the UK this year as per Birdguides
With the St. David’s Head bird in Pembrokeshire last seen on the 7th April, and subsequent sightings of a Snowy Owl further north in Ceredigion a day later and on Skomer Island on the 30th May, it’s entirely plausible that this could be the same female moving north. However reports of a Snowy Owl on Anglesey have been doing the rounds since the spring, with a bird reported at South Stack as far back as the 24th March and again at Rhosneigr on the 13th April, so it is equally as likely that this is a different individual altogether from Pembrokeshire bird, having set up home in the remote Welsh mountains and remaining undetected for long periods of time. Indeed, after making itself available at Point Lynas, it wasn’t until 3 weeks later that it was spotted again further west at South Stack, with another month on top of that before it was reported once more.
Point Lynas, Anglesey
Point Lynas, Anglesey
The beautiful views from the coastal path
Regardless, this was a fantastic local bird to see in a beautiful, rugged Welsh coastal setting, and a bird that means I can finally tick off that blank square on my owl checklist after all these years.

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing bird to see! I had no idea they made it into the UK.

    And congrats on completing your owl list!

    ReplyDelete

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