Sunday, March 5, 2017

NH - Great Gray Owl


Great Gray Owl - Oak Street fields, Newport, Sullivan Co., NH. March 3rd, 2017.
Images appear courtesy of JoAnne Russo. 

A mere fifty miles north of the Massachusetts state line, this handsome Great Gray Owl put on a fabulous show as it roosted in the open at the edge of a wet meadow in Newport, New Hampshire. A major camera blunder left me without images for the day, but luckily Laura Gaudette and JoAnne Russo also got to the site on the same day, and JoAnne very kindly offered some of her excellent images to share on this post - thanks JoAnne!

The New Hampshire bird was apparently first found on or around Feb 25th, but it wasn't until about March 2nd that I finally picked up the thread. As it happens, the bird was not seen for most of the 2nd but did put in a late afternoon appearance that day raising my optimism for a chance visit on March 3rd. Thanks to a timley email from Dylan Jackson (many thanks Dylan) I was able to make the journey north  in between Matan's school hours taking Route 10 all the way from Northfield to the site in Newport. The drive was just 58 road miles from our home in Northfield and  turned out to be especially scenic north of Keene, NH. As I drove the route, I couldn't help but wonder how many Greay Gray Owls might actually be out there in this incursion year and maybe, just maybe, how about the prospect of one in Massachusetts?!

Remarkably, and before I'd finished composing this post, Brian Rusnica unearthed an ebird entry that clearly shows an unambiguous Great Gray Owl photographed just north of Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts on February 22nd. The photographer, evidently not expecting anything out of the ordinary, had labeled his bird a Barred Owl and as such it was never flagged as 'rare' by ebird allowing the sighting to go unnoticed for 11 days. Naturally folks will be out searching and it remains to be seen whether or not the bird can be refound - I have a feeling it might be. In any event, kudos to Brian Rusnica for trawling ebird and spotting the photos and 'chapeau' to Derek Pritchard for taking the images and placing them in a public forum - excellent stuff!


Great Gray Owl - Oak Street fields, Newport, Sullivan Co., NH. March 3rd, 2017.
Images appear courtesy of JoAnne Russo. 


Great Gray Owl Scene- Oak Street fields, Newport, Sullivan Co., NH. March 3rd, 2017.
Sadly an all too familiar scene, birders and photographers keeping a respectable distance aside from the one jolly
who just has to get closer than everyone else. Thankfully the owl wasn't flushed on this occasion.




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