Rare snowy owl spotted in Cobh

Rare snowy owl spotted in Cobh

A rare sighting in Ireland: A Snowy Owl was spotted in Cobh over the weekend. Photo by Aidan Fleming.

A snowy owl has been spotted by the waterfront in Cobh in what is an extremely rare sighting in Ireland.

The owl, which is one of the largest in the world, was spotted at the waterfront in Cobh during the early hours of Saturday morning.

The rare sighting is one of 90 recorded on the entire island of Ireland.

After being alerted of the sighting, the BirdWatch Ireland Cork Branch were surprised to discover that it was indeed a snowy owl.

“The first reaction was that snowy owls are incredibly rare, so let’s go look at barn owls and the owls that we have in Ireland first,” said Jim Wilson from the BirdWatch Ireland Cork Branch.

“Then he sent me a photograph and it was a Snowy Owl- incredible."

It is believed that the snowy owl is either a female or a young male as females tend to be much larger than the males, weighing up to three kilograms. 

According to Mr Wilson, snowy owls usually frequent the much colder climates of the high Arctic and this visitor may have hitched a ride on a boat to Cobh or got caught up in the recent windy weather.

“It’s probably a combination of the weather we have been having- they unseasonally strong winds, the high waves and everything like that - if an inexperienced snowy owl or young bird gets blown out to sea, then it gets into a storm, it just keeps flying and it gets catapulted way out from where it’s supposed to be," he said.

"This bird can turn up almost anywhere. They wander a lot, so we may never see it again in the harbour or somebody else might see it."

The owl, which Mr Wilson described as "an exotic visitor," seems to be coping well in its new environment and was spotted feeding on a black gull.

According to Mr Wilson, the owl may soon head further north, however, there is a chance it will stay. 

“There was one in Mayo and it was seen every year for a number of years, so you never know," said Mr Wilson.

"It could turn up anywhere," he added. 

Members of the public are reminded to keep clear of the owl if they do come across it.

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