As most of the UK said goodbye to the snow this week, hundreds of lucky nature lovers said hello to a beautiful female snowy owl.
Made famous by Harry Potter, this Hedwig-lookalike decided to stop off at two RSPB reserves, Titchwell Marsh and Snettisham over the weekend giving birders around the country cause to get in their cars and head to Norfolk.
It’s possible that this rare sighting was caused by our recent cold weather as these strikingly white birds are more commonly found in the high Arctic tundra rather than the coastal regions of Britain. During winter months they can migrate southwards looking for food sources and it’s possible that this bird came from Scandinavia or even as far away as Canada.
Occasional sightings in the UK have been reported in recent years but it’s incredibly rare to see one as far south as Norfolk so the excitement in the bird watching community spread fast, with some driving almost 200 miles to see the rare visitor.
In recent years the snowy owl has achieved notoriety as Hedwig the post-carrying messenger for Harry Potter in J K Rowling’s series of novels. Hedwig was portrayed as a skilled hunter and an affectionate and loyal companion. In reality, they are reclusive birds unused to human contact although historically eaten by the Inuit.
3 snowy owl facts!
• Unlike most other owl species, snowy owls hunt mainly in the daytime. This is mainly due to their main prey, lemmings.
• The snowy owl is also known as the Arctic owl or the Great White owl but its old name was Catyogle.
• They are known to aggressively defend their nests and will attack those that try to disturb it. This plays into the hands of other species such as red-breasted geese who benefit from being their neighbour.
For more information about the Birdwatchers’ Code and responsible birdwatching, visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatcherscode
Image (c) Matt Bruce
Last Updated: Monday 12 March 2018