RANGERS on St Kilda have challenged the internet to spot their rarest resident – a beautiful snowy owl.
The image shows a rock strewn landscape which includes the owl hiding in plain sight.
The female snowy owl, called Snedge, has taken up residence on Hirta, St Kilda’s biggest island.
Snowy owls occasionally make short visits but Snedge, who turned up last spring, appears to have taken up residence.
The St Kilda Rangers uploaded the picture to Twitter on Thursday with the caption: “Anyone for a game of ‘Spot the Snowy owl?
“It’s been a bit stormy this past few days and Snedge has been sheltering closer to the village than usual.”
The image shows rocks and cleits – stone storage buildings – on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Snedge blends in remarkably well but can be seen hiding beside a small rock just below a low flying bird, which is believed to be the Fulmar.
@DaveHal05827369 wrote under the St Kilda Rangers post saying: “Hard to believe something so big and white is so well camouflaged.”
@LindPanwolf2002 added: “Found her. The irritated fulmar gave the game away.”
@langstc1 joked: “There’s a book in this. ”Where’s Snedgey?”
Speaking today, Sarah Lawrence a Ranger at St Kilda said: “The female Snowy owl was first sighted on St Kilda in the spring of 2018, and she has been seen around the island regularly ever since.
“It is not unusual for a snowy owl to reach St Kilda – several individuals have been found on the islands over the years, but they don’t usually stay here for so long – so it’s quite special to have a “resident” snowy owl.
“Hirta has over 1200 cleits which provide excellent shelter for a snowy owl whichever way the wind is blowing, and they also house the snowy owl’s preferred meal – the St Kilda mouse – an endemic sub-species which is almost twice the size of a mainland wood mouse.”
The Snowy owl tends to be spotted on a near-weekly basis and seems to have her preferred locations in Gleann Mòr and high up in Village Bay.
“This week the islands have seen some very stormy weather, including wind speeds up to Force 10 [around 60 mph] – which is probably why the owl was found roosting just behind the Head Dyke in the village on Thursday afternoon for some additional shelter.
“It’s quite possible that one day she will disappear – possibly returning to the high Arctic where she may have originally arrived from, but meanwhile staff and visitors on St Kilda enjoy the daily excitement of ‘snowy owl spotting’ whenever we’re out enjoying the islands.”
It is believed Snedge originated from the High Arctic possible from Greenland or Scandinavia,
The rangers believe she has been attracted by the presence of the St Kilda Mouse a larger cousin of the wood mouse.