In the Kingdom of the Snowy Owl
Our winter explorations of the wilderness areas of Cape Cod were taken to a new level this past week. Working with expert tracker and Cape Cod Naturalist Todd Kelley we embarked on an epic hike out on to a wintery and frozen Sandy Neck with the goal of walking all the way to the point and returning.
Walking along the frozen edges of Barnstable marsh and into the beautiful maritime forests of red cedar, pine and even a few wild holly trees interspersed with the tundra-like feel of desolation and dunes was an awesome backdrop to search for the magnificent snowy owls that have been reported over the pat 50 days out there. The frigid temps on this day did not deter the Neck's predator population of raptors from scouring the snow and ice for rodents and small birds. Amazingly we had 7 separate snowy owl sightings (probably three different birds), and also had great views of red tailed hawk, merlin, northern harrier, sharp shinned hawk and even a short eared owl! Our days walk covered an exhausting 17 miles and was made even more challenging as we had to break our own trail through 5 - 7 inches of crusty snow on top of the frozen sand. Absolutely a day of "mindblowing" wonder...and after a few days of recovery the day will go down as one of the best we have ever experienced on Cape Cod at any time of year. See what you think. A few images follow.