Highlands & Islands

Images show rare snowy owl in Cairngorms

Snowy owl in Cairngorms
Image caption The snowy owl was seen in the Northern Cairngorms last month

Images have been published of a snowy owl's rare appearance in the Cairngorms.

Wildlife enthusiast Lucy Dunn was ski touring with her partner when they spotted the bird of prey on 17 February.

Their sighting has been reported on the nature website iSpot.

RSPB Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust said snowy owls made rare appearances in Scotland. The birds are native to Arctic regions.

Ms Dunn and her partner were on their way back from Carn Etchachan and were heading towards Feith Buidhe, in the Northern Cairngorms, when they had their encounter.

She said: "The owl spotted us first, heard us coming and took off.

"I caught a glimpse of large white wings and was unsure what it was. I remember thinking - that's too big for a ptarmigan.

Image caption Lucy Dunn's images have appeared on nature website iSpot

"Fortunately the owl did not go far and settled down again to watch us, which is how I managed to get the photos. Eventually after a short while it did fly off."

Ms Dunn added: "We felt very privileged to spot such a wonderful bird."

In 2011, a male snowy owl appeared on the Western Isles for the eighth year running in a search for a mate.

The large white owl first visited the islands in 2003 and had previously flown around North Uist, Lewis, Harris and St Kilda.

In 2008, birdwatchers' hopes of snowy owls breeding in the UK for first time in more than 30 years were raised when the bird was joined by a female.

However, the pair were later spotted 50 miles apart.

The last pair of snowy owls to breed in the UK was on Shetland in 1975.

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