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Here in coastal New Hampshire, we've been fortunate to have some unusual guests over the winter months: snowy owls. Arctic dwellers, they don't normally venture this far south.

Those who are in the know say the birds appear to be healthy; one hypothesis is that there was a "bumper crop" of young which resulted in heightened competition for food and hence the migration further from home.

Photographers have been excitedly snapping away - and the lovely visitors, who don't seem to be bothered by humans, have been fairly accommodating. With the snow long gone at the coast, I figured the owls would have bid us farewell by now. A photographer friend mentioned having seen one just the other day, though, so I have been trekking back in hopes of one last glimpse.

This morning as I was driving over to a reliable "owl hangout" by the ocean before the sun came up, I was surprised to see some clouds in the brightening sky. The forecast had been for completely clear conditions. Clear skies don't make for interesting sunrise imagery, so my focus had been solely on the owls.

I hadn't checked the tide situation before turning in last night, and wasn't worried about getting over to the shore at a specific time, because the sky wasn't in play. I just wanted to be there right around sunrise in hopes of catching feeding time.

Imagine my vexation when the makings of some pretty interesting color began to paint the clouds - which weren't supposed to be in the sky! I didn't need to look at my watch to know I'd likely left the house too late to capture a sunrise image.

Long story short: I made it, by the skin of my teeth. It turned out to be high tide. A marshy tidal area very near my usual sunrise shooting location on the Atlantic coast was totally flooded - and therefore reflected the wonderful colors. I had just a few minutes to find a place to leave the car, run over to the marsh, set up my tripod, and make the photo before the sun appeared and washed the lovely shades of lavender out of the sky. Serendipity.

Having captured the shot, I packed up and continued on to my original destination. No snowy owls. Evidently, this morning it was the sunrise I was meant to see - and not the birds.

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