Strix nebulosa

Great Grey Owl / Lappuggla / Laplandsugle, lapugle
Play/record song


Great Grey Owl. (Strix nebulosa) 70 cm 0,9 - 1,2 kg.
Its not a long drive to Skummeslöv Beach from Copenhagen and thats the point in this.
The Great Grey Owl, the taiga-mouse-hunter is on a rare official visit to southern Scandinavia close to the Danish Capital.
Realy unusualy close.
It lives and breeds on the Taiga-belt circumpolary in Northamerica and Eurasia including northern Norway and is from time to time seen as far south as Tromsoe and that´s it. Usually. Tromsoe is as far south as it goes.Its not seen in Sweden every year. Northern sweden is the periphery.
But even up where it belongs, its a seldomly seen bird. People go there and returns "emptyhanded" having looked for it for days.
And now, here it is less than 30 miles off Copenhagen and the saying is out that it lets people get as close as 10 meters.
Its like "Your invited to a reception".

Two hotdogs on the ferry are the supervisors breakfast and lunch. The dresscode is casual, as allways. This is like it had been the Danish queen that had called us. In fact this is kind of the same thing. Only this is more serious.
You are not qualified by ribbons and decorations. Last time the Great Grey Owl was seen at these latitudes it was shot. Shot and killed by the swedes according to the political atmosphere at the time. 
It was in the mid thirties. Since then no Great Grey Owls has been observed arround here not to mention that they have never, never crossed the water.
The Great Grey Owl has never been seen in the state of Denmark. So take a step closer. Here it is, and thanks to swedish friends we found it easily. Found it half an hour after having done the 20 miles of driving from Helsingborg. There it was sitting at the end of a seven foot pole posing beautifuly in the shady light between the birch-tree crowns and the moss.

The light is switching thanks to the cumulus-clouds but more soft and beautiful that I could have set it up myself. In fact, given the chance to set the whole scene up as I wanted I couldn't have chosen better. Anyone photographing birds knows that thats not the way it usually works. 
During the 3 hours we spent there with the this 23 inches bird we watched and enjoyed its hunting at closest range. Saw its sleeping, its radar reading of the ground. Its occational yarning, Its hunting eating and flying. Its soundless, gracefull "glides" between viewpoints.


We watched a steadily ongoing mousehunt.
And we were close enough to see when its eyes suddenly went tence, reading some move in the underlaying mossy ground.. which it scanned from view-points seamingly prefered in the height of three four meters above ground. Never far from us. In fact, the bird not once flew off surgesting that it had any problem having us arround.
It was concentrating on the mice.
And though hidden to our human eyes there seamed to plenty of them in Skummeslöv Strand that day.
Good hunting.
Once it took a kamikaze dive down from such a 3 meter viewpoint. A streight down, head first, no use of wings, kamikaze-dive, hitting ground, head first, less than a foot off the point it set out from. But mostly the killing was more like fifteen seconds of concentration folloved by a soundless glide with eyes locked on target, going down, at a 45 degrees to the ground. Soundless untill. Pang. 

What a day.