It was an unusual place to be. During most years a few will show up in the United States during the winter, but every now and again, several dozen will find their way south. The prevailing theory is that when they have a good breeding year up in the Arctic, enough offspring are produced that the young adults leave to find food outside of other owl's territories. Typically these wanderers are found in the northern United States, but every now and again, a few will find their way further south. Based on a search of other reported sightings, this one will be only the 8th to be officially recorded in Texas.
It was a two hour drive, but I knew that it was likely the shortest trip I would ever make to see a Snowy Owl and that I had a good chance of seeing it up close. I am really glad that I went. It turned out to be a first year female resting on a telephone pole in a parking lot. She was absolutely gorgeous and did not seem to mind all the noise of the highway and the attention from gawking onlookers. I left home with the intention of only watching her for about an hour so that I could get back before dark, but one hour quickly turned into several. I got to talk to a lot of nice people about her and give them an even better view of her through my scope. I was worried that the employees of the Discount Tire, who's parking lot we were in, would be annoyed at us birders being in their parking lot and attracting people driving by, but instead they were inquisitive and gracious hosts and we all had a nice time enjoying the experience of seeing such a rare sight together. There are not many opportunities to see owls up close, and even fewer to get to watch one for hours on a 60 degree day in the middle of January with good company.