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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Birdy Spring Weekend

After getting a mild ankle sprain playing hockey earlier in the week, I wasn't able to do any hiking, but on Saturday the sun was shining so bright that I just had to get outside. Deadman Bay doesn't sound like the most beautiful place to take in some warm spring weather, but it was:


In Deadman Bay I saw four harlequin ducks, six red-breasted mergansers, and a pair of black oystercatchers. I also spotted two groups of foraging Dall's porpoise. And once I took my eyes off the water to look more closely around me, I found another tiny sign of spring - a common storks-bill flower (Erodium cicutarium):


On the drive home I stopped by Panorama Marsh on False Bay Road to see what was happening there. It was mostly mallards, though there was a also a single double-crested cormorant, American coot, and female bufflehead. Most of the other buffleheads are gone all of a sudden, surely heading back north for the summer. Another birder pulled over to see what I was looking at and thought it was surely the bald eagle perched right in front of me that I had embarrassingly missed while looking at the ducks! In my defense it was well-concealed among the trees, but it was still very close. While talking to my fellow bird-watcher I also heard my first marsh wren (136) of the season.

Today the weather wasn't quite so spring-like, but I had plans to go up and visit my friend Katie and see if we could find any owls in the woods near her house. It's my experience that rarely do you find owls when looking for them - they prefer more serendipitous encounters - but since she's seen some owls up there before we decided to try our luck.

As we entered the deepest part of the woods we came across a pair of pileated woodpeckers - always a delight!


We walked a little further, scanning branches and holes in the trees for an owl, but no such luck. Then on our way back I heard Katie whisper something frantically to me. I headed back to where she was behind me and I could not believe my eyes - she had found a barred owl (137)! I don't know how she spotted it, as it was barely peeking out of its hole:


I wouldn't be at all surprised if this was a nesting cavity. We're going to check back in a few weeks to see if we can see some chicks. One of her neighbors has also reported a northern saw-whet owl nest nearby, and I would love to track that one down too since that would be a life bird for me!

After getting home I was surprised to hear that someone else had seen a short-eared owl at the south end of the island earlier today. I know that's a species sometimes seen there, but I've never had any luck turning it up. Knowing I wasn't likely to be lucky enough to find not one but TWO owl species in one day I headed out to see what I could find. As expected, I was not able to locate the short-eared owl, but on the way home I did see my first turkey vulture (138) of the season. That made the trip well worth it!

4 comments:

The K said...

Great photos of the owl and woodpeckers. It always amazes me when you are able to capture pictures of birds one seldom sees.

Vera said...

I was just going to repeat dad's first sentence, so "ditto". Fantastic!

Warren Baker said...

two more for the list Monika, and some spring weather, you're being spolt rotten :-)

Anne McCormack said...

What a fantastic place--Dall's porpoise and that wonderful owl and tree!