[CT Birds] Hammo on New Year's Day

Mntncougar at aol.com Mntncougar at aol.com
Thu Jan 2 21:06:25 EST 2014

Lots of people have mentioned that there was a Snowy Owl giving  wonderful 
looks to many onlookers from the Cedar Island Platform most of  New Year's 
Day. I thought I'd add a little to that. 
It was clearly NOT the same owl that was seen for quite a few  days about a 
month ago. That owl was very heavily marked, appearing very dark  except 
for the face, and was probably an immature female. By contrast, when I  first 
saw this new bird, for the first hour or more, it was facing away, and the  
back did not appear to have much marking at all, or at least it seemed very  
light. The back of the head was almost completely unmarked white. 
But unlike most of the Snowies I've seen, this bird was very  active and 
flew around several times, finally alighting in a little pocket of  marsh 
grass near the beach, almost directly in front of the platform and facing  the 
platform. Then it was obvious that the "underparts" were very heavily  
marked, much more so than the back, it seemed to me. Except for the white face  
and a little vee below it the breast and belly appeared much  darker than I 
expected. Because of the windy weather and the photographic  limitations of my 
equipment my pictures are very poor, but good enough to show  those 
I never got a great look at the feet, but I saw no sign of blue  marking 
that would have indicated it was the bird that was released a few days  ago.
The highlight of the day for me and everyone else there at the  moment was 
the time a Black Duck made the mistake of flying almost directly over  the 
owl. The owl immediately took off and began to chase, and the two of them  
went around and around the marsh area for two or 3 minutes. Several times it  
looked like the owl could take the duck, but never made the final effort and 
 seemingly lost interest and flew back to its perch. 
On another occasion the owl took off and flew to a small cedar  tree 
directly in front of the platform. It then was forced to spread its  wings for 
balance several times because it was being buffeted by the wind,  giving us 
great looks.. And it finally gave up and flew to a final perch in  the marsh 
grass in front of us. At times it seemed it was almost asleep,  hunkered down 
and eyes closed or nearly so. Before that it had been very  alert.
There were quite a few shorebirds around and as the tide  dropped they took 
over the mud flats near the platform. And another highlight  occurred when 
the entire flock suddenly took off together. They had been stooped  on by a 
Peregrine Falcon, who came up empty and then flew just to the south of  the 
platform, giving very good, if fleeting, views. The funny thing was, when  
several people called the bird, very few others even bothered to look; they  
were so focussed on seeing the owl. 
I didn't see it but a Great Horned Owl perched briefly in the  trees along 
the trail to the platform, and quite a few people got to see it very  well. 
All in all a very nice first day of the year.  

Here's a link to the best pictures I could manage. Click on the first  
picture to enlarge:  
Don  Morgan

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