This is a sad, but true story. Even though it is embarrassing, I feel it is my duty to report it, because it shows that, even though I have been obsessed with nature my whole life, I don’t know a gosh-darned thing about it. Some days I don’t stand out in my field too well.
Last winter, we had an unprecedented irruption of snowy owls and I was mighty excited to go find one. I subscribe to a listserve of bird sightings in my area, and when one was reported nearby, I decided to go out that night to find it.
Around 8 or 9 pm, I headed out the door. I let a friend know that I would be out searching for snowy owls if he was interested. He was, and we met up at the site where the owl had recently been seen.
We didn’t just search, we scoured the fields for that owl. We scanned back and forth with binoculars, checking out endless fields of blank snow, scouting out power lines and barn roofs.
We drove around, searching ceaselessly, for close to four hours before we were willing to admit defeat. The next day I emailed one of the people who had reported seeing the owl the day before, confessing my confusion. His response was an incredulous, “What do you mean? Why were you out looking at night? Don’t you know that snowy owls only hunt during the day?”
Fortunately, my friend was the forgiving sort and it all worked out, but I won’t soon forget the embarrassment of that wild owl chase!
NB: I did eventually find a snowy owl! It was during the day, though. 🙂