The snowy owl is native to the Arctic regions, although being migratory they can wander unpredictably to almost anywhere close to the Arctic and this includes parts of the Outer Hebrides.
The snowy owl is one of the largest species of owl and is nomadic, rarely breeding in the same place or with the same mate annually. Males tend to be a purer white overall, whereas females tend to have more extensive flecks of dark brown.
Unlike most other owl species, the snowy owl is often active during the day especially during the summer months. This magnificent female was seen and photographed on Bein Scolpaig, North Uist by local guide Martin Gillingham in May 2022. The same bird had been spotted on St Kilda earlier the same month and returned there at the end of May.
The snowy owl is now classified as “threatened”, although recent data suggests that their numbers are continuing to decline rapidly and sightings will always need some luck. For UK sightings, a trip to North Uist is much easier to organise and a far more comfortable place to stay than St Kilda and a visit here during spring/summer should be on every “snowy owl photographers” bucket list.