I’ve been chasing snowy owls for years, trying to get “The Shot.” I’ve made dozens of trips, driving hundreds of miles the last 15 years, scoping out, the cold and windy Lake Erie coast. I’ve gotten a few blurry pics of white dots that you’ll just have to trust me are Snowy Owls from the great North Country. It should’ve happened last year. The 2013-14 winter saw a huge Snowy Owl irruption, the biggest in half a century. I did manage to get a passable photo of a flying Snowy off the Cleveland coast, but nothing I was really proud of. Then finally this December, after hearing that some Snowy’s were seen back at Presque Isle State Park in PA, I made the short 2 hour drive.
Success! After a two hour drive and 1.5 mile hike, I was ecstatic to find two owls in close proximity posing for me and about a dozen other photographers and birders! I packed my Nikon D750 and Tamron 150-600mm, and am glad I did. Even with the birds being relatively close, I still wanted to keep as much distance as possible, and 600mm was necessary. I set my camera to manual and kept my aperture at f/8, and adjusted my shutter from about 1/2000 - 1/640 depending on activity. I wish I had taken a monopod so that I could've dropped the ISO for some of the grounded photos and also shoot some video. I don’t like to use a tripod for wildlife, because I feel a bit too restricted with movements.
This doesn’t seem to be another large irruption year, like ‘13-14, but still a better than typical opportunity to see these amazing owls. Keep your eye on the North coast, brake walls, and large fields for these mysterious northern visitors!