Sunday, February 16, 2014 Owls in Action

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 8:32 am, sunset 5:51 pm, for a total length of day of 9 hours 24 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 24 seconds longer. What a treat to still be light out after 6 pm!

A big storm dumped over a foot of snow on Friday, transforming the sorry-looking bare ground into picture postcard winter scenes. Massive dark clouds from the Gulf of Alaska delivered load after load of addition snow over the weekend. At times, the wind whipped the light fluffy stuff into ground blizzards, making visibility very difficult. When those little tantrums subsided, it was calm and beautiful. Temperatures are back in the winter normal range in the 20s.

Tonight, as a light snow diminished, Jupiter, Orion, and his glittering dog Sirius shone through the light cloud cover. The eastern sky brightened as the rising waning moon glowed through the veil of clouds.

On Saturday, I enjoyed a walk through the serene black and white world of snow and forest at Two Lakes Park. An odd irregularity to the peaceful white blanket up ahead caught my eye. Upon closer inspection, I found little tufts of brown and white fur scattered all over the bank. Higher up, footprints and wing prints in the snow told how a GREAT HORNED OWL plunged after a rabbit and grabbed it.

The owl enjoyed dinner high up in a nearby spruce tree, inadvertently decorating the tree branches and bark with little bits of fur as the rest showered to the ground. The good dogs were fascinated by this discovery, and their Lab report soon made a mess of the drama. One found the rabbit's foot, apparently only lucky because the owl found it inedible. The dog thought it might be, but I took it away before she could prove it.

What a thrill to discover the owl's story! And incidentally, Bird #63, confirming the snatch of GH OWL hooting I heard on February 7th.

Other notes:
February 11: RED-FACED CORMORANTS at the SMIC boat basin, Mile 5 Nash Road. A brownish juvenile stood on a piling with two glossy green-sheened adults, preening in the sunshine.

NORTHERN SHRIKE at Fourth of July Beach. It vocalized many times, a harsh, gutteral sound, perched at the top of an alder.

February 12: about a dozen MARBLED MURRELETS bobbed in the choppy white-capped waves as nearby GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS dove headfirst into the froth for dinner, possibly herring, just offshore by the Greenbelt.

February 13: calm and cold, ghostly fog sprites danced down the bay. A pod of at least 7 Steller Sea Lions patrolled the bay along Lowell Point Road, popping up to watch me with curiosity. I finally found the lone male BLACK SCOTER, and a RED-NECKED GREBE, #61 and 62.

February 14: GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET busily at work, quite close in a spruce branch, talking to itself in a tiny high voice, "tsee, tsee, tsee."

February 15: A drake MALLARD flew furiously high across the sky; I didn't wonder why for long. A BALD EAGLE soon appeared, stroking powerfully after it, cutting underneath. I did not see the conclusion, but felt there was duck on the menu today.

February 16: I followed a flock of 12 birds to a neighbor's Mt Ash tree where I identified them as GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCHES. They looked forlornly at the feeder, swarming with NW CROWS, and departed.
About 20 ROBINS sat quietly in a May Day tree.   

At 7:30 pm, I was lucky to be outside to hear an extremely close NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL calling loudly from the lower slopes of Mt Marathon. At 10 pm, all was quiet. One never knows with owls!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

No comments:

Post a Comment