Today I specifically went out just before sunset for some Owl Witching.
It’s been tough to be out there just before sunset lately, so with the little bit of time I had today (after a much needed post-show 3 hour nap!) I was determined to be out at the right time to find them and see what goes on when it’s HUNTING TIME.
I’d seen sunrise-time observations on iNat of my Great Horned Owls over at the Rhododendron Dell, so I’ve been pretty curious what goes on overnight!
Started at the eucs, since that’s where I last saw them. And, no sign of them. But, there was a small pile of babyowletlooking feathers in a clump on the ground, hm! No sign of them in the owl nursery (which, I’m really feeling is going to be underused, if not entirely ignored, this year). Or in last year’s falsenesttree. Or along the Slime Mold Lab trail. At that point, I was at a loss. And hoping I’d hear hooting to help me find them. And thinking my Owl Witch skills weren’t so hot at that moment.
Walked past the Slime Mold Lab, and I looked for signs in all the trees nearby. Then, I grabbed my binocs and just looked to the left. And, THERE WAS JUNIOR. High up in the falsenesttree! Completely impossible to see from the trail adjacent to it. I was feeling pretty good about that. Took a look without the binocs. Right out in the open! Took another look in my binocs, and I was immediately on Ma Owl, about 10ish feet below. I’m so grateful for when that happens, I can’t even tell you.
No sign of Pa Owl. But, I got to watch these two for a while. And, it was pretty awesome. Junior would occasionally look down to see what Ma Owl was up to. Reminded me of the Brady Bunch squares for a bit. Junior also stared at me for a good deal. And would do that head circular bobbing thing. It’s interesting how often I’ve seen the owlets doing that, versus the adults. Why is that? Gotta look that up.
Ma Owl started to stretch, which prompted Junior. Aw. Junior did more head circular bobbing and took a couple steps along its branch. Took a quick look at Ma Owl stretching, then looked up for Junior. And, it had VANISHED. Already at Owl Ninja Status!
Stayed on Ma Owl to see where she’d go. Rhododendron Dell? Or, is that where the family meets up at the end of their evening? She eventually flew across the paved path and into a tree. Followed her, and found her low in a tree just a foot or two from Pa Owl! Was he that low over there the whole time?? Maybe THAT’s what she was looking at!
They stayed there together for a minute. Pa kept looking West. Ma kept looking in all directions. She oddly flew up and quickly down into a Coast Live Oak and stayed there for a bit while Pa preened. She then flew up and out and into a Coast Live Oak on the Slime Mold Lab Trail. Went to the trail, then she flew out and landed ON THE TRAIL! I think maybe it’s the only time I’ve seen an adult owl on the ground before?? She looked all around then flew back up onto a branch. I cautiously walked up the trail, passed her somewhat overhead, and turned back after a bit to watch her. She soon took off East. And, that seemed like a good cue to head home.
SO GLAD I somehow found the time to do this. I wish I could follow them (or, just one of them) all night to see where they go. But, I’d need some high-tech night-vision goggles or something. Lemme know if you have some I can borrow!