It had been a couple of years since my last visit to Amherst Island so off we went yesterday to get re-acquainted with this popular birding destination.
A Snowy Owl was seen on the ice from the ferry on our crossing:
A layer of hoary frost covered the island:
But our attention was on birds, as our second Snowy Owl for the day awaited us in a picture-perfect setting:
Other raptors during the day included Red-tailed Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, a male Northern Harrier, and this Bald Eagle:
Six hours later we returned to the mainland, and after scouring the passage Justin spotted this Snowy Owl on the ice...
...that flushed to more solid ice as the ferry passed it:
We were almost back to shore when something white caught the corner of my eye and I admit to initially not paying much attention to it as I assumed it was one of the
Imagine my reaction when I realized what it was:
The Snowy Owl we'd seen on the ice was flying in to land on the ferry!
For the next minute she perched while we swooned:
Then we realized she was hunting:
The hunted was a lone Red-breasted Merganser on the ice:
The female Snowy Owl failed.
By now we had returned to the mainland but were so amazed to witness this that we remained in the car in the ferry parking lot to review our photos before hitting the road.
This was a very good thing because we discovered she had returned to her hunting perch on the ferry!
Ding ding, Round Two:
Three minutes later the ferry pulls out:
The Huntress searches:
The Hunted has now retreated to the ice as the ferry is in motion:
The Huntress takes off as we collectively hold our breath...
...and less a minute later she lands on the moving ferry again:
...but she's empty-handed, so to speak:
Perhaps the moving ferry blocked her sight line of the lone Red-breasted Merganser, or perhaps she chose to return to the island side where there was a lot more choice in the limited open water:
In speaking with the ferry crew we learned this was a frequent hunting technique, so Justin quickly coined the phrase "working girl" for this Snowy Owl, what a star she was!
Before we hit the road we said farewell to the luckiest Red-breasted Merganser in the province, for now, that is!