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A Long-eared Owl in Belfair

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Happy New Year!

Some may view New Year’s Eve as the closing of a year, but I see it as a sign of what is to come. This peek into the future was particularly special this year because we had a phenomenal day exploring Theler Wetlands Trail located in Belfair, WA  at the end of the Hood Canal.  Our mission was to find a Long Eared Owl that was recently spotted in the area. Long-eared Owls are not common in western Washington, but if they are seen it is usually in winter.

It was a scenic 1 1/2 hour drive from our home in Edmonds, WA. There was much to see and the community we encountered there was friendly and eager to share tips and tricks to help us with our quest.

Within minutes of arriving, I spotted telltale signs that we were in the right area – a guy with full photo gear. I asked if he had seen the owl. Luckily he had! After getting his quick and gracious directions, we were on our way. Within 10 minutes we happened upon what must be the spot, a crowd of about 15 bird enthusiasts had gathered. I quickly learned they were observing a very well camouflaged owl. Success!

In order to get my shot, my best approach would be to take a few steps into the swampy wetland.  I poked around in the shrubs to ensure I could get a good sight line. Thankfully, I was wearing rain boots, which allowed me to line up my perfect shot!.

I must tell you, coming face to face with this creature was awe inspiring- it was a thing of beauty! I was surprised to see the size of the bird. I half expected it to be much larger, but it was about the size of a small dog. I remained a good distance away to respect the other admirers trying to catch a glimpse. When it comes to nature, everyone deserves to have their own moment.

I held my breath as I took several shots. Those two, or so, minutes felt frozen in time. Silence. Stillness. Me and this majestic creature. Just the two of us. Alone.

I came back the earth as things quieted. Once the buzz of excitement cleared, I turned and discovered that both of my kiddos had followed me into the swampy water. They had also had a quiet moment with the owl! I was overcome with joy and pride. What a beautiful moment to share with the people I love the most.. It was magic!

As I progress into the new year, I will view my encounter with the owl as a symbol of my own inner wisdom, transformative change, intuition, self-actualization, and good luck! I hope the same for all of you, friends!

Things to note:

  • No dogs are allowed due to this being a wetland preserve so plan to leave them home or make sure they have a safe place to hang while you explore.
  • Wear waterproof boots for best access so you can set yourself up for a great shot regardless of the weather or ground conditions.
  • There are plenty of eateries nearby to explore, although we didn’t have the chance to do so this time around.
  • Please check out our resources page to learn more about the camera we used to take these shots!


I would recommend. This area is huge and there is so much more to see! We also saw a Northern Shrike (see the photo gallery) – was not too close but at the very top of a tree asking us to take a photo.

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