Today was not a well planned day. Started out too late and FOOLISHLY thought I’d be able to park near North Lake, even with Hardly Strictly going on. FOOLISH, I SAY.
I ended up not having a lot of time, so I went to see if I could find my owls.
I went straight to the owl nursery. No owls there. HOWEVER, there were a number of Great Horned Owl feathers randomly below the owl nursery. Hm! And, did I mind that a West Coast Lady butterfly so kindly stopped for me? Nope!
No owls in the fakenesttree. HOWEVER, there was so much Dog Vomit Slime Mold on the Slime Mold Lab Trail that I was quite pleased! We’re talking FOUR totally new molds, folks. Plus the decaying one I saw recently there. That lab is RIPE right now.
Didn’t see anything fauna-wise round there. Headed back up and towards the South trail of the Lily Pond when that same West Coast Lady (I think) made CERTAIN that I got good photos. I’m telling ya. It’s UNCANNY. I hadn’t taken that back trail in some time. I wondered if maybe the owls had moved closer to the Lily Pond, as they do in the Fall. Saw not a one.
HOWEVER, that log that often has Laetiporus fungi had two new specimens! Western Hardwood Sulphur Shelf, of course.
Got to the Lily Pond, and it was eerily quiet. Not a SINGLE bird on the pond. Or even in nearby trees. It was ODD. The pond still looked clean. I could hear Steller’s Jays and saw birds flying from tree to tree way up high, but nothing near the water. The only noteworthy flora I observed were Red Osier Dogwood berries. And Chinese Silver Grass is flowering like crazy.
I looked up to find the Steller’s Jays squawking in a pine tree, and there was a Red-shouldered Hawk up there! It then hid behind branches and leaves to escape the attention of the Jays. And it soon flew off to the East.
Since not much was happening there, I went back to check for owls one more time before leaving. Again, couldn’t find one. It bothered me SO MUCH that I had seen such recent owl feathers in the area but couldn’t find one single owl. I surmised that they were likely in the eucs between the Secret Garden and the Lily Pond, which is tough to find them in. They spend time in them in the Fall, as well.
I headed out of the nursery when I spotted YET ANOTHER Western Hardwood Sulphur Shelf at the base of a euc ring, where some squirrels were none too happy that I was nearby. I quickly took some fungi photos, stood up, and turned around. I happened to look up at the euc in front of me, AND THERE IT WAS. One Great Horned Owl up super high. FINALLY!
I watched for a little bit, and then IT HOOTED. Around 6:17pm. Just about the right amount of time before sunset. Since it did the low hoot, I knew it was Pa Owl. I also didn’t see any crazyeyes on display. He watched the squirrels fussing over me. And hooted a bit. Then preened. And about then my neck was killing me, so I knew it was time to head out.
Right before then, someone with a camera (and not binoculars) had come by to see what I was looking at. We chatted a little. I pointed and described where the owl was. He looked up and said he could see where I was pointing to, but… I told him with his camera and zoom lens he’d be able to see it. But, he wasn’t interested in seeing it. Just photographing it. And, this wasn’t a good angle, admittedly.
He said, “Yeah, but I’ve gotten shots of them from like 10 feet away, so.” And he soon left. I confess that I’m much more fulfilled by taking photos of things I see to view them up close later all I like and to notice things I didn’t notice in the moment. But it seemed crazy to me to only care about The Photo. My photos aren’t great, as the owl is obscured a little. But WHATEVER. I got to see it! I got to watch it! I got to hear it hooting! I’m SO LUCKY! More not great owl photos below for the owl fans.
Oh, and I’m throwing in a photo of an Umber Skipper that prominently flew right in front of us and onto a pumpkin while we were at Clancy’s earlier today. Sometimes the Naturing just COMES TO YOU. Again, SO LUCKY.