CMBO's Winter Birding Sampler workshop enjoyed great looks at the Bivalve Snowy Owl today at about 1:30 p.m. at the Bayshore Discovery project site. We saw the bird initially perched on an ice flow out on the marsh. It then flew in, perhaps weary of gradually drifting out towards the bay on the outgoing tide, and perched on the walkway railing, and eventually took off and flew south across the Maurice River, possibly towards Heislerville/Matt's Landing. We met a local gentleman who said he had been seeing the bird regularly, perched on the walkway railing, for at least two weeks. It's easy to see why - there was lots of potential prey at Bivalve, including at least 175 Northern Pintails, zillions of gulls, and smaller numbers of Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead, Black Ducks, and Mallards. Snowies are known for eating lemmings, but on the wintering grounds they consume a variety of prey, including some pretty hefty birds.
In the negative owl department, we watched at Turkey Point from before sundown until near dark and saw neither Short-eared Owl nor Great-horned, though we heard several of the latter. Another bird surprisingly absent was Rough-legged hawk - and we were in good habitat all day. Bald Eagles, however, were everywhere, including an adult at Beaver Swamp, and mutliple adults and immatures at Heislerville, Bivalve, and Turkey Point.
The impoundments at Heislerville were 95% frozen, but tidal areas along the bayshore are still partially to mostly open.