A rare influx of Arctic owls last winter was an education bonanza

By Jane Scott  |  Photograph by Tony Pratt
From the Holiday 2014 issue

snowyowls Sample Stories - Delaware Beach Life - Results from #165Last winter, we on the Delaware coast were treated to an unusual sight: a historic invasion of snowy owls from the Arctic. According to Bill Stewart, director of Conservation and Community for the American Birding Association, the influx began north of us the week before Thanksgiving, when 380 owls were suddenly spotted on Cape Cod. It simply grew from there, spreading down the East Coast with outliers as far south as Florida and as far east as Bermuda.

Snowy owls are the largest owls in North America. The males, with the exception of some spots or bars of bluish gray, are almost pure white. The females are considerably larger and are usually more heavily barred. These are birds of the treeless tundra, so perhaps it was not surprising that they gravitated toward Delmarva’s farm fields and sand dunes. They also liked airports. In fact, Stewart has a video of an airport shot from above that, from an owl’s point of view, bears a surprising resemblance to a tundra laced by rivers. 

Concerns about Rehoboth’s imperiled character have long been spurred by large houses. Now there’s a related point of conflict, and this argument holds water.

By Mary Ann Benyo and Tom Kavanagh | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
From the Holiday 2014 issue


Rosemarie and Bill Bahan fell in love with Rehoboth for its quainter aspects. After renting “forever,” they bought a cottage on Hickman Street 25 years ago, coming from Washington, D.C., on weekends and summers until they retired and moved there full time a decade ago. Bill notes that he and his wife didn’t even discuss retiring there; it just went without saying.

Rosemarie describes being friends with everybody on their block, having parties that closed part of the street. Bill adds that “this was a family community, staying in family homes. We didn’t rent them. Families all came and stayed for the summer.”

Their small three-bedroom cottage, built in 1932, is flanked by similar homes. But Rosemarie points toward two others that are to be torn down and replaced by a much larger, eight-bedroom house. Yet another large home is going up at the other end of the street. Still reeling from a big rental house constructed last year that has brought noise and parking issues to their neighborhood, the couple fear more changes ahead, and more problems. “We lost the community-type atmosphere,” Bill says.

The Funny, the Fabulous and the Confounding

By Pam George
From the Holiday 2014 issue

MattHaleyThe man behind the restaurant and philanthropic empire was a whirlwind of energy and ideas. Those who knew him best tell what made him special, and why he will be dearly missed.

The sun shone bright and unseasonably warm on Sunday, Sept. 28, when more than 2,000 people gathered at The Freeman Stage at Bayside to commemorate the life of Matt Haley, who had died the previous month following a motorcycle accident in India. From the video clips to the passionate speakers to the spirited rendition of “Sympathy for the Devil,” the event was joyful, inspiring and, of course, sad.

It had been a year of enormous highs and crushing lows for Matt, whom I met in 2001 shortly after he opened Redfin, now Bluecoast Seafood Grill, in Bethany Beach. Not that the Washington, D.C., native’s life was ever easy.