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‘A dream come true’ - a rare sighting of a snowy owl in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 11:49 12 March 2018

A female snowy owl was found resting in Snettisham Nature Reserve. Picture: Lester Bunyan

A female snowy owl was found resting in Snettisham Nature Reserve. Picture: Lester Bunyan

Lester Bunyan

A keen bird watcher and his wife were on a peaceful stroll when they spotted an incredibly rare sight.

A female snowy owl was found resting in Snettisham Nature Reserve. Picture: Lester BunyanA female snowy owl was found resting in Snettisham Nature Reserve. Picture: Lester Bunyan

Perched on the grass in Snettisham Nature Reserve was a snowy owl, only 50 metres away from where Lester Bunyan and his wife Anne were stood.

It was around 11am on Sunday when the couple made a quick call to the RSPB Titchwell Marsh and Snettisham, where they volunteer, to spread the exciting news. 
“It was exceptional, one of those moments where I felt birding doesn’t get better than this,” Mr Bunyan said. “We got the news out as soon as we could.”

Within an hour, a mass exodus occurred when around 250 people flocked to Snettisham to catch a glimpse of the magnificent bird.

A female snowy owl was found resting in Snettisham Nature Reserve. Picture: Lester BunyanA female snowy owl was found resting in Snettisham Nature Reserve. Picture: Lester Bunyan

Mr Bunyan said the female snowy owl - whose cousin played Hedwig in the Harry Potter films - was spotted earlier in the week in Heacham by a passer-by who took a picture on their mobile phone.

He showed the picture to volunteers at RSPB asking what it was.

“Everybody looked at the picture with their mouths open,” Mr Bunyan added. “We were all excited.”

A female snowy owl was found resting in Snettisham Nature Reserve. Picture: Lester BunyanA female snowy owl was found resting in Snettisham Nature Reserve. Picture: Lester Bunyan

Since then, Mr Bunyan believes around 800 people made their way to West Norfolk to spot the owl, which was also sighted in Titchwell Marsh and Scolt Head Island.

The large white owls breed on the Arctic tundra where they remain year-round with some migrating to parts of Canada, Russia and Scandinavia.

Mr Bunyan’s theory is that the snowy owl seen chilling in Norfolk may have been blown over from Scandinavia by the Beast from the East.

“It is the first time I have ever seen a snowy owl, a life bird,” Mr Bunyan added.

He described Snettisham as one of the best birding areas in the country, which prompted him and his wife to move to West Norfolk from Newmarket, in Suffolk, around four years ago.

He added: “We love volunteering for the RSPB, it is a major part of my life.”

He said that while barn and tawny owls were commonly seen in this part of the world, nothing could compare to the incredible sight of the striking white bird.
“What was quite nice was me and my wife being the first to see it. Just the two of us on our own watching this wonderful bird.

“It was a dream come true.”


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