Yesterday I finally managed to get my act together and go birding. Although the backyard bird count was going on I only had the morning and my goal was very centered on locating some owls. I wanted to see if I could get a hat trick by spotting Long eared, Saw whet and Great horned all in one day. Yip, I believe go big or go home. My first location was a farm that a neighboring county bought, which is now a county park. The park has some nice open stretches of grass with pretty decent woody areas around it. The park also has some pretty nice patches of Cedar stands which are prime roosting locations for both LEO’s and Saw Whet. My goal at the first stop was to track down LEO, Saw Whet and maybe a bonus Short eared owl or two. I had seen both LEO’s and Saw Whet at this location a few years back. Unfortunately the Short eared’s went out the window because it took me longer to drag my sleepy head off the warm pillow.
My first nice bird of the day was a Northern Harrier which welcomed me to the park as I drove in. This was a great start to the morning I thought, as I sipped my last bit of coffee. With coffee and an orange in my tummy I went off in search of the LEO’s. Unfortunately this wasn’t going to be easy. I stared looking in the area where I last saw them but no dice. I checked out some other cedars (ouch brambles digging into my legs) and found lots of pellets, but no owls. When I went back to the firs location, I tried some trees on the edge of the grassland and BINGO! Four LEO’s roosting in some VERY thick tree cover. Some of the LEO’s were in the cedars, while two others were in some thick deciduous tree cover. I managed to snap a few pics which aren’t great, but you can see the owls.
[Side note: For some reason it looked like my lens wasn’t focusing correctly which set me off on a tangent snapping pics of anything and everything…. I was also annoyed that I decided to leave my video camera at home as I could have shot some awesome video of the LEO’s.]
After snapping the LEO’s I left them in peace and headed off to try to find some Saw Whet. After traipsing around like a man on a mission for several hours (ouch lots more brambles and sticky things) I came up empty handed in the Saw Whet department. I did find some more LEO-sized pellets, but no Saw Whet nor any evidence of any…hmmm. Not sure whether I was just unlucky or what the deal was.
[Side note: Upon reflection today, maybe my eyes are shot and that’s why I missed the Saw whet. I looked at the pics I snapped so furiously yesterday and they are in focus. What the best stuff for improving your eye sight again? I know I should have listened to my mom when I was small.]
After leaving the park I headed off to see if I could find some nesting Great horned owls (GHO’s). I checked out several Red tailed hawk (RTH) nests but they were all vacant with a few having a lot of RTH activity.
So I struck out on Saw Whet and GHO but came up pretty on the LEO’s – hardly a bad of a birding! As they say even a bad day of birding beats a good day of working! I was so happy to see LEO’s again as it’s been several years since I been fortunate enough to track them down. Now I just hope that I get REALLY lucky and a Screech owl moves into my owl box this Spring.