I asked one of our administrative assistants, Vicki, if she would like to see (hopefully) a real live Hedwig, she said of course (who wouldn't!), and ten minutes later we were on the scene.
Scott's student deserves the Medal of Eagle Eyes for spotting this owl. This unmagnified view shows the tower, from where we gazed upon the owl. I suppose if you click this photo to enlarge, you can make it a small protuberance on the left side of the summit of the tower, but it isn't obvious. Furthermore, this is not the type of locale that one would necessarily be on their toes for Snowy Owls.
Yet there was the bird, a young of the year female, showing lots of dark stippling. By now, other birders were arriving, as word had been put out via Facebook and the Ohio Birds Listserv. It had been sitting up there for at least an hour at this point. I appreciate Karen Chism allowing me the use of her photos - pretty darn good, considering the distance!
SIDEBAR: I have noticed an increasing trend, and a rather disturbing one, of criticism of owl photos. Facebook is the place to see this sort of strange and often ignorant attack. Someone will post a photo, often like this one, and someone else will jump in and accuse them of being too close to the owl, and "bothering" it. While I'm not denying that can happen, in many cases they are looking at an image that was taken with a 500 mm lens, like Karen's, that was then cropped heavily. Look at the first landscape image, then the above image. Cameras can do amazing things these days. Don't launch attacks on photographers if you don't know the circumstances in which the photo was made, please. I've even noticed that a number of photographers must feel guilt-tripped, as there seems to be an increasing tendency for some to make sure and note their image was "heavily cropped" in an attempt to stave off the keyboard warriors' attacks before they start.
After we watched the great white owl for a while, it began to stretch and shake out its wings a bit. Then, Presto! It leapt into the air, quickly gained altitude, and headed unerringly due south. It'd be interesting to know where it is now.
This wasn't the only new owl to come to light today. I heard of four others, and insofar as I can calculate, there have been reports of 112 owls in 39 counties since the first one was reported on November 22. CLICK HERE for the latest update and map.