Birders have been furiously chasing Snowy Owls in their Bird Mobiles, up & down the coast of New Jersey all December. While hundreds of curious birders & photographers swarmed spots like Sandy Hook, Barnegat Light, and Brigantine/Forsythe throughout December to catch a glimpse of one or two owls if they were lucky, Holgate has been quietly hosting an astonishing 13 Snowy Owls in its 2.5 mile stretch. I certainly kept my mouth, but not my camera shutter, shut for the past month as it became anecdotally clear that the Owls were quickly abandoning any site discovered by birders.
Well, all heck broke loose this weekend when Holgate made the birding news. Our beloved little Island was swarmed with Owl seekers and, sure enough, the Owls have disappeared. Only three remain, and those three are bunkered down, and even hidden, deep in the refuge. They know how to avoid humans and are doing a tremendous job of it. Even sunset, their favorite time to come out and sit with the camera, was a dud.
The cat’s out of the bag, and it appears the party is over, at least for now. It was a magical month here on the Readings, getting the chance to hunt, live, and frolic with 13 amazing Snowy White Owls on the open beach for the past month. It took a long time and extreme patience to befriend these creatures, but as you’ve seen they are quite friendly once they learn to trust you. We’ll never know what caused them to leave for sure… could be the wind, could be the menu… but from what I have experienced here, the aggressive nature of human curiosity does in fact annoy them.
We can suppose they’ll just keep moving away from us until they finally figure out to return to the one place most of us won’t go: the Arctic.
Is there a word yet, for old friends we’ve just met?