In late November, snow wouldn’t be out of the question in the Point of Pines, but snowy owls would certainly be a pretty big question mark just about any time of the year.
However, that’s just what Eric Harrison found on the Beach Thanksgiving week when he was out photographing ducks and other birds.
Snowy Owls are small, bright white owls that typically hang out in northern Canada, Quebec and the Arctic Circle. However, on rare occasions, they have been known to come further south to Massachusetts. There have not, however, been any confirmed sightings of such an animal on an urban beach like Revere’s Point of Pines in decades, if ever.
“I guess this is the time of year they come further south from the Arctic,” said Harrison. “They consider our winters kind of warm. I never expected to see one here, though. When I first saw it, I was out trying to get a picture of a Loon. At first, I thought it was a seagull with its wing folded under. I moved on, but decided to come back and take a closer look. Then I was like, ‘Wow!’ I immediately started taking pictures of it.”
Later in the day, Harrison came back and found another owl – which turned out to be a female companion.
With a little detective work, Harrison was able to find that the male owl had been tagged with a number. An avid bird photographer, Harrison said he contacted a fellow birder and was able to get some detailed information on the owl.
The owl on the Pines Beach last week had been seen on Plum Island on Nov. 21. It had been tagged north of Kyle, Canada (Saskatchewan, northern Canada) originally on Nov. 23, 2012 by a researcher.
For those keeping score, that’s more than 2,500 miles away from the Point of Pines.
Other snowy owls recently have been found at Logan Airport and others – perhaps the same ones as seen here – were spotted on Winthrop Beach last week.
Harrison said he never expected to see a snowy owl, but after having photographed eagles, ospreys and other birds on the Saugus River – he said he’s not altogether surprised.
“That’s a photograph I never expected,” he said, noting that he’s probably taken pictures of 105 different kinds of birds in the Pines. “The ospreys and bald eagles are all crazy, but a snowy owl – a pair of them – is just something I never expected to see 300 feet from my home…It just seems like where the Saugus River meets the Ocean and up to where it becomes just a stream, is a true wildlife haven.”