At first I thought the word was spelled incorrectly.
Of course, these days I’m stressing a little about spelling because I’m in the process of changing all the Canadian English in my novel and stories to American English. Why? Because my mentor kept changing the spelling on half of the words I used (specifically the ones with double ll’s) and not correcting others (those with ou instead of just an o). I sent a question to a Canadian agent, and she said to default to American English. Now I’m going through my manuscripts, something I needed to do anyway, and even though the word processor is nicely underlining most of the words that need to be changed, I’m stumbling over them. “That’s not right–oh wait, yes it is”.
All that to say, irruption is the correct spelling but the word was new to me. An irruption is when a species of bird abundantly overwinters in an area that it doesn’t normally overwinter in. This year, Ottawa has an irruption of snowy owls. I sent my husband a newspaper article last week and said “this is what I want for Christmas. Let’s go owl-hunting”.
He’s a good sport. On Boxing Day we went out, but we were unsuccessful spotting anything. Yesterday, we took quieter country roads and drove by several farms. Photographically speaking, it was the kind of day I have a hard time getting great settings for–lots of shades of grey and white.I love watching and photographing birds, and I learn a lot from them. To my knowledge, I’ve never seen an owl in the wild–although now that I have, I’m pretty sure I also saw a snowy owl land on a tree last month. We were on the 401 at the time, and that just isn’t the place to pull a u-turn to check it out.
First, we watched a trio of Canada Geese strolling on the river as though telling each other how their Christmas Day unfolded. We found a rafter of turkeys gleaning in the fields, and then we saw an osprey, I think, glide over us before settling in the tree. His wing span was significant, though his markings were inconclusive because I couldn’t get close enough. This was followed by another small gathering of turkeys.
My husband saw her first. He pulled over, and pointed towards a stump in the field.
“There she is,” he said, “your first owl”.
It took me a minute to find her–white and black bird in the middle of a white-cloaked field on gray-draped day. Then the stump moved it’s head, swinging around so I could see her luminous yellow eyes. We watched her for twenty minutes or so as she shifted to survey her domain. She even snuggled down into the snow, much like the robins will do in the dirt when it’s too hot outside. When she flew away, I lamented that I wasn’t a good enough photographer to capture it with my camera. My heart embraced it though–with her five-foot wing span, it was breathtaking indeed.
I got back in the car, and we drove off. Not ten minutes later, we saw another owl perched on top of a silo. Gorgeous, simply gorgeous. My camera started to complain against the cold, so I put the sluggish beast away to warm up and pulled out the field glasses. Her large and luminous yellow eyes continually scanned all around me.
I couldn’t have been more delighted. Our bird watching day wasn’t finished yet however. As the light faded, we passed a rafter of turkeys–a large one, at least 23 birds. Best of all, we watched them fly into the trees to roost for the night.
Some days are just hard to improve upon, don’t you think?