A lonely snowy owl, who flies all the way from Greenland to Scotland every breeding season, is still to find a Valentine after nine years. The white-feathered bird of prey, who has been named Elvis by conservationists due to his “lonesome” nature, is thought to have hatched in Greenland in May 2001, two years before he first arrived in the Outer Hebrides in search of love.
RSPB conservationist Martin Scott, who has followed Elvis’s quest for a mate, told STV that the bird arrived on the Isle of Lewis on 11th February this year. “He’s maybe trying to cash in on Valentine’s Day, because he’s just arrived in the Hebrides for the ninth year running in search of a mate, who as yet, eludes him,” said Scott.
“You’d have to give him full marks for effort,” he continued. “I just hope that this year he gets lucky in love. To have snowy owls breeding in the Hebrides would be fantastic.”
Britain has not seen a pair of breeding snowy owls since 1975 when a couple famously hooked up in Shetland. It was also thought that Elvis had got lucky in North Lewis in 2008, but hopes were dashed when bird watchers identified his new-found snowy associate as a male.
“We think he hatched in Greenland and took a flight looking for a mate before discovering he was half way across the Atlantic, and just kept going,” said Scott. “He’s been here on his own ever since.
“At his age he’ll be hormonal. We see him sitting on exactly the same fence posts and rocks, but we’ve not had a resident female for years. I’ve even seen him sidle up to a white plastic bag. It seemed as though he thought it was a mate as it was the only other white object in the big open brown moorland. It was quite sad,” he added.
“We are monitoring his movements but in reality all we can do is keep our fingers crossed that he will find another wandering bird, and that this time it will be female.”