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Brian's Quest for the Snowy Owl

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Brian's Quest for the Snowy Owl

 

I awakened from a deep slumber, at a snail’s pace. Although my tired body craved a continuance of warmth and comfort, I became cognizant of the day’s mission and excitement finally snapped me out of the bed and into the shower. This anticipation had been building since reading the Daily Interlake and Missoulian articles on the Snowy Owl Irruptions!

The intriguing, white-souled snowy owls have come down from the far north. Perhaps they are assisted by Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind. They do this intermittently. Irruptions generally occur a few years lag time after a boom in prey base. Lemmings, a short tailed northern rodent, are a staple of the owls’ diet. Following a recent rise in lemmings, snowy owls increased in population, which resulted in greater numbers and distances of their nomadic movements. Their alternate prey—meadow voles—have drawn them into the Polson area.

I had graciously accepted an invitation from three fellow greybeards to take a journey down to the south end of Flathead Lake to check out this majestic creature. Greybeards is a complimentary term I have used occasionally to describe my brothers of the baby boomer generation, and I was honored to be invited by these gentlemen. Accepting the invitation, however, was somewhat uncharacteristic on my part. Basically a loner, I have made my living in the woods in wildlife research, forestry, and land surveying, preferring for the most part to be on my own. In the last decade, I have been branching out into teaching outdoor educational programs and attempted short flights as a fledgling writer. Yet somehow, I had faith this would be a good group for an outing. 

Dark transformed itself, passing layers of frozen fog eventually assuring me of light as I met the gang. Ernie, of the “Hawk’s Nest” noteworthy column, was our pilot. Riding shotgun, Gary (the “Faith Walk” columnist), and behind him, Sandy, publisher, author, and wilderness advocate. I sat behind the pilot, silently hoping the guys’ writing talents would rub off on me this day. Sandy’s knowledge of geography certainly did.

We topped a hill of urban interface and grass shrub fields. Spotting our target species, a spell ensued, sending each of us on his own hunting path. Cameras and binoculars blazed, with top gun Ernie capturing some great images. All spirits were in flight on this day. Maybe the last best place is just the last best place you’ve been. Let’s savor life and laugh again together, boys! For life is fleeting, much like the flight of the snowy owl.

Continue with Sandy's story here.

 

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Author info

Brian Baxter Brian Baxter Brian Baxter is a wildlife researcher, forester, land surveyor and published author. Brian has over 38years field experience, and also teaches outdoor educational programs.

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Snowy Owl, Brian Baxter

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