and then there are nights like last night, where everything aligns and the owls are busy; as though they have figured this springtime thing out…barred owls bantering back and forth at a nest, saw-whets congregating on a ridge, with one calling to let the other owls know that “this ridge is taken, boys, but any females are more than welcome.”
a seedy strigidaen singles bar.
by the time my 3.5 hours were done, i had tallied 14 owls…mostly saw-whets and barreds, but a great-horned owl thrown in to exercise his bullying in the early april landscape.
i have heard that great-horned owls will eat small children.
i don’t know what was different from saturday night to last night…same temperature…same clear skies…same fevered expectations borne by the stinky biologist; then i remembered…”it’s the habitat, stupid.”
the best thing about surveys in pronounced watersheds is that for the most part, the forests adjacent to the water are intact and because they are intact, there are old stands of pine and spruce and birch and aspen that seem to attract owls dependent on those forest types (go figure).
anyone questioning the accelerated arrival of spring can know that at my first stop last night, i heard both a robin and a woodcock. the robin was bitching about something and the woodcock was peenting by himself (the woodcock and i are alot alike).
i tally woodcock and grouse during my owl surveys, simply because they are an acoustical component of the landscape and if i hears ’em, i writes ’em down. when the frogs get going and are frolicking in their frothy, vernal pools of lust, i actually have to avoid some of my stops because of the volume of their vocalizations.
(warning: anecdote to follow)
during one night in 2000 , my valued assistant, richard jordan and i tallied over 30 grouse in one night and an equal number of woodcock. i have long waxed about distraction and diversion and when the grouse are drumming and the woodcock on display, they serve just such a function.
that wasn’t so bad, was it?