Incredible moment Great Gray Owl swoops in for his close up and perches on photographer’s lens

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A wildlife photographer was in for a surprise when the owl she was photographing broke the fourth wall by diving down and landing on the lens of her camera.

The Great Gray – the largest species of owl in the world – swooped down and landed just inches from Anaïs Trépanier’s face as she stood with the viewfinder in front of her eye in Cote-de-Beaupre near Quebec, Canada.

She had tried to capture the magisterial bird perched on a snowy fence in wintry conditions, but stopped as it flew toward her.

Fellow photographer Thomas Pham-Van captured the owl feeling right at home and not squealing during the extraordinary moment as it brushed fiercely.

Thomas, 47, said: ‘The owl took off and flew straight ahead, then looped back to Anais.

“I was already amazed to see this beautiful bird and to have the privilege of capturing it in flight, but I was so surprised to see it sitting on the camera lens.

Wildlife photographers Anais Trepanier and Thomas Pham-Van were photographing owls in snowy conditions when they had the visitor of a lifetime

Wildlife photographers Anais Trepanier and Thomas Pham-Van were photographing owls in snowy conditions when they had the visitor of a lifetime

The Great Gray - the largest species of owl in the world - swooped down and landed just inches from Anaïs Trépanier's face as she stood with the viewfinder in front of her eye in Cote-de-Beaupre near Quebec, Canada.

The Great Gray - the largest species of owl in the world - swooped down and landed just inches from Anaïs Trépanier's face as she stood with the viewfinder in front of her eye in Cote-de-Beaupre near Quebec, Canada.

The Great Gray – the largest species of owl in the world – swooped down and landed just inches from Anaïs Trépanier’s face as she stood with the viewfinder in front of her eye in Cote-de-Beaupre near Quebec, Canada.

The Great Gray Owl is a very curious and daring creature that is not afraid of human contact.  The owl is clearly in charge in this interaction

The Great Gray Owl is a very curious and daring creature that is not afraid of human contact.  The owl is clearly in charge in this interaction

The Great Gray Owl is a very curious and daring creature that is not afraid of human contact. The owl is clearly in charge in this interaction

The creature sat quietly on her camera without a care in the world.  Anaïs Trépanier had tried to catch the magisterial bird perched on a snowy fence in winter conditions, but stopped when it flew towards her

The creature sat quietly on her camera without a care in the world.  Anaïs Trépanier had tried to catch the magisterial bird perched on a snowy fence in winter conditions, but stopped when it flew towards her

The creature sat quietly on her camera without a care in the world. Anaïs Trépanier had tried to catch the magisterial bird perched on a snowy fence in winter conditions, but stopped when it flew towards her

The wild owl sat on her camera for about 30 seconds before flying away, in a bittersweet moment for a worried Anais

The wild owl sat on her camera for about 30 seconds before flying away, in a bittersweet moment for a worried Anais

The wild owl sat on her camera for about 30 seconds before flying away, in a bittersweet moment for a worried Anais

‘I could not believe my eyes. I looked quickly and then started taking pictures again.

“A friend who was with us yelled at Anais not to move. I got the shivers.”

The wild owl sat for about 30 seconds before flying off, in a bittersweet moment for a worried Anais. “She remained very calm,” said Thomas from Quebec, Canada.

“Probably a little nervous, but who wouldn’t be there with this type of bird so close to her face.

“It’s a wild animal, so we didn’t know how it would react if Anais had to move. She says she kept an eye on the owl’s claws to protect her hands.”

The great gray owl is a mammoth bird, the largest in length (24 to 33 inches), with a five-foot wingspan - though they weigh only a modest 2.5 pounds and are mostly feathered

The great gray owl is a mammoth bird, the largest in length (24 to 33 inches), with a five-foot wingspan - though they weigh only a modest 2.5 pounds and are mostly feathered

The great gray owl is a mammoth bird, the largest in length (24 to 33 inches), with a five-foot wingspan – though they weigh only a modest 2.5 pounds and are mostly feathered

They are voracious predators that must eat about seven vole-sized meals each day, terrorizing small mammals such as lemmings, pocket gophers, voles, hares, moles, shrews, weasels, thrushes, grouse, Canadian jays, mountain quail, little hawks, and ducks

They are voracious predators that must eat about seven vole-sized meals each day, terrorizing small mammals such as lemmings, pocket gophers, voles, hares, moles, shrews, weasels, thrushes, grouse, Canadian jays, mountain quail, little hawks, and ducks

They are voracious predators that must eat about seven vole-sized meals each day, terrorizing small mammals such as lemmings, pocket gophers, voles, hares, moles, shrews, weasels, thrushes, grouse, Canadian jays, mountain quail, little hawks, and ducks

Only this species of owl is known to 'snow dive' after waiting, listening and watching for prey from low listening posts and then diving to penetrate dense snow and grab small prey hiding there in their talons

Only this species of owl is known to 'snow dive' after waiting, listening and watching for prey from low listening posts and then diving to penetrate dense snow and grab small prey hiding there in their talons

Only this species of owl is known to ‘snow dive’ after waiting, listening and watching for prey from low listening posts and then diving to penetrate dense snow and grab small prey hiding there in their talons

Everything went pretty quickly and I don’t think she has time to think too much about her photo equipment.’

The great gray owl is a mammoth bird, the largest in length (24 to 33 inches), with a five-foot wingspan – though they weigh only a modest 2.5 pounds and are mostly feathered.

Their large heads and long tails create a deceptive effect – both the great horned owl and snowy owl weigh over and they have larger feet and claws.

They are found in Canada and some parts of the west coast of the United States, as well as Scandinavia, Russia, Siberia, and Mongolia.

They are voracious predators that must eat about seven vole-sized meals each day, terrorizing small mammals such as lemmings, pocket gophers, voles, hares, moles, shrews, weasels, thrushes, grouse, Canadian jays, mountain quail, little hawks, and ducks.

Only this species of owl is known to ‘snow dive’ after waiting, listening and watching for prey from low listening posts.

They are not considered an endangered species, with an estimated 50,000-99,999 in the wild. They are classified as “Least Concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Great gray owls are not considered an endangered species, with an estimated 50,000-99,999 in the wild.  They are classified as 'Least Concern' on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species

Great gray owls are not considered an endangered species, with an estimated 50,000-99,999 in the wild.  They are classified as 'Least Concern' on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species

Great gray owls are not considered an endangered species, with an estimated 50,000-99,999 in the wild. They are classified as ‘Least Concern’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species

They are found in Canada and some parts of the west coast of the United States, as well as Scandinavia, Russia, Siberia, and Mongolia

They are found in Canada and some parts of the west coast of the United States, as well as Scandinavia, Russia, Siberia, and Mongolia

They are found in Canada and some parts of the west coast of the United States, as well as Scandinavia, Russia, Siberia, and Mongolia

They hunt near dawn and dusk and are mostly active at night and are not afraid of human contact, as both Anais and Thomas can attest.

Thomas, who walks 10 to 15 km a day in search of animals to photograph, said: ‘It is rare for an owl to get this close to a human, but they are naturally very curious.

“The owl also offered us wonderful shows of soaring flights and diving in the snow while hunting for food.

“I was stunned by this beautiful bird, but I really didn’t expect what happened.

‘I have the pleasure of sharing this moment and immortalizing it in photos. Some people seem to think it’s a montage, but it isn’t.

“Others think we did the bait, but we didn’t. I do not endorse this approach. It was a surreal and fateful moment that we will never forget.’

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