On IBET, the network for Illinois Birders, Craig Taylor forwarded a post on Halloween about a snowy owl in Milwaukee with the admonition to be on the lookout for snowy owls
Apparently they are coming. The big news over the weekend was a snowy owl found by Beau Schaefer at Gillson Park in Wilmette early Saturday, Nov. 8.
By Sunday morning, Evanston bird photographer Jerry Goldner has some wonderful photos posted at his Profiles of Nature site at http://www.profilesofnature.com/snowyowl.html.
The past week was enough to fire me up.
With any excuse I could find over the last week, I made a few swings through the area on the border of Iroquois and Kankakee counties where I was the first to document a snowy owl in Iroquois County on New Year's Eve of 2005.
This was the best photo I was able to get a few days into 2006. The first photo I got in the dying light of 2005 was barely good enough that Alan Anderson, the veteran birder from Des Plaines, was able to confirm it was a snowy owl.
Finding that snowy owl is still one of my highlights in the outdoor world, and one of my fondest memories.
I was not a good enough birder to be absolutely certain it was a snowy owl, that's why I checked with Anderson to make sure I didn't make an ass of myself before posting on IBET.
And I also called and emailed Jed Hertz, the compulsive birder of Kankakee County. I knew that was the bird count day for Kankakee County, and thought somebody might be able to find it on the Kankakee County side of the line before the stroke of midnight rang in the new year.
Within a couple days, Hertz and others not only relocated the snowy owl, but found another too.
Maybe this is the year I will see it or them again.
One other odd note and question about snowy owls.
They used to be frequent visitors to Northerly Island when it was home to a small airport. Since Northerly Island has become park land, I've heard virtually no reports of snowy owls there.
I wonder if others have noted that, and, if so, why?