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Thursday, March 1, 2012

What a hoot! Owl caught on camera letting out a huge belly laugh

By Leon Watson

Chuckle time: This owl is letting out a huge belly laugh as he perches on a branch in the Olympic National Park, in Washington

This bird seems to be having the time of his life - and is h-owl-ing with laughter.

The snowy owl appears to be throwing back his head, closing his eyes and letting out a huge belly laugh as he perches on a branch in the Olympic National Park, in the U.S. state of Washington.

Photographer Tin Man Lee hiked for miles to take the stunning photographs of the birds in their natural habitat, when they flock to the mountain in early February.

Mr Lee, from Los Angeles, California, said: 'At the start of the spring, quite a few snowy owls fly to Washington State for food.

'Getting to the spot was quite challenging, which was a five-mile hike on the sand or tall grass in gusty wind from the Pacific Ocean.

Natural setting: The owl perches on a branch as it's photographed by Tin Man Lee

Rugged: The Olympic National Park is set on around 62 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline

'I actually fell down once while approaching the owl when I was walking on the rotten tree branches when one of them was broken.

'I was carrying my camera gear so I had to land on my knees. It was painful, but worth it to get this shot.

'I think the owl was actually yawning, but it looks like smiling.

'Owls usually have their eyes shut during the daytime, so it was really incredible to see this one pulling such a funny face.'

The rugged Olympic was designated a national park in 1938 and is located in the north-west of Washington state and is renowned for the diversity of its ecosystems.

It has glacier-clad peaks interspersed with extensive alpine meadows are surrounded by an extensive old growth forest, among which is the best example of intact and protected temperate rainforest in the Pacific Northwest.

Eleven major river systems drain the Olympic mountains, offering some of the best habitat for anadromous fish species in the country.

The park is set on around 62 miles of wilderness coastline, the longest undeveloped coast in the contiguous U.S., and is rich in native and endemic animal and plant species, including a critically endangered population of the endangered northern spotted owl.



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