Friday, April 17, 2009

Spot the owl.

No, this isn't about an owl named Spot. It's a challenge, a game, an instruction of sorts.

Today I went to Terra Nova to lead a bird walk. I parked my bike at my brother-in-law's house, and walked through the rural park to get to the meeting place. On the way I passed (in the distance) a spruce tree that was getting noisy attention from crows. Hmmm, I thought.

The bird walk wound through the park, and as it approached the spruce tree (in the distance), the crows were still busy. Hmmm, I thought.

I left the group behind, and approached the tree. Oh, there it was, a dark blob halfway up. Silhouetted crows were helpfully pointing their bills.

It took a while, but all the birders eventually saw the owl (Bubo virginianus, Great Horned Owl). The bird, master of cryptic colouration, wasn't easy to see through branches, and in the shadows.

After the walk, I returned to the tree and tried to find a less obstructed view. I did, but from farther away. Between blackberries and barbed wire, I was stymied. Still, we saw an owl. Hooot!


Sheila said...

We have an owl that lives in a tree near us. We hear him at sundown and I've only spotted him once, very early in the morning, without my camera!

Karen said...

Very cool. Now if you could just spot a Spotted Owl, that would be extra amazing! But I guess they are few and far between, sadly. Crows are always a good tip-off to eagles around here. I always go out to look when they're kicking up a fuss.

Kim and Victoria said...

Cool. I remember seeing owls as a kid at my parents house in town! (That was a long time ago.)

PSYL said...

Awesome. Was it found on the that drive with the birches, European beech, and the nut trees? I always kept my attention upward when I ride by that drive (since that's when I saw the owl the last time).

Did you guys also see the Killdeers nesting on the bank of the slough?

kompoStella said...

arrgh! i've just spent an hour every day for a week trying to spot an owl i heard every night :-O

i like the first photo - i think the owl is saying something to the likes of "you talking to me?" :-D

karen said...

Spotting an owl...always a special treat! -KaHolly

Hugh said...

Sheila, not having your camera with you always increases the odds of finding an owl. Good luck!

Karen, A Spotted Owl. Now that would be something. Yes, I always pay attention to crows.

K&V, Keep and eye (and ear) out. There are still owls to be found.

PSYL, The tree was at the community garden, slightly north-west of the red building. We saw a single killdeer at the slough.

KompoStella, I usually find owls by not looking for them. Crows help. Yes, this one was very expressive.

Karen, Spotting an owl can turn a ho-hum day into a great memory.