if one is looking for interior forest owls, it helps to have interior forest.
last night, my route took me up the caribou trail, yet another route that has changed immensely since my owling infancy. the more recent changes, those that have occurred since my last traverse in october, were profound. several large clear cuts and thinning that has essentially removed all the understory and shrub layers from acres of forest. i mean, acres of former forest.
i don’t know if the intent is forest management or to protect the haughty summer homes from the smites of a vengeful god, but whatever the reason, it seems a curious landscape now.
there were some big aspen in those stands. i mean, former stands.
only a lone saw-whet last night. he sang from the backside of a ridge and i nearly missed him because my attention had drifted to one of those teary-eyed, nostalgic owling journeys i so often take when there are few distractions. last nights trip took me back to 1991, the first of several years i was able to utilize the services of field assistants and the middle of several years where boreal owls were as thick as thieves.
i stopped at an old ’91 nest tree whose 80 feet of bole and canopy have been reduced to around 20 feet of bole.
aspen does that: it grows like a weed and then falls apart. order, owls, then chaos.
despite the punky condition of the wood, several spike marks in the tree were visible, the remnants of my early, white-knuckled climbs to get to the cavity to determine the status of the nest.
i should have hired spiderman.
i have two surveys left and until thursday to get them finished, then i start the whole process over again. then, once more through the end of april.
oh oh…the 1997 owl season is calling me.