Today I got to spend the afternoon in my backyard.
I’ve been looking forward to today for a while. I planned to be with the owls (or, at least in the vicinity of them) to hear them as sunset approached. It’s been so long since I’ve seen them and since I’ve seen more than one. I’ve been dying to know where the pair is, as I’ve assumed that Junior has left the building.
My overall plan was to walk through the Monarch Bear Grove, round Stow Lake, stop in for a Bandshell Concert, then hopefully find the Great Horned Owls near sunset.
While I only heard California Scrub-Jays in the Monarch Bear Grove, I did see some nice surprises. Like California Fuchsia and Midland Hawthorn berries and Cleveland Sage (maybe?) and even the first blooming Cornish Lily.
On my way to Stow Lake, I decided to walk through the CAS Botanical Garden. No Arion slugs on the wetish ground, but a completely random and orange Mexican Sunflower at the East end?? Right after leaving that odd find, I heard a “WHIT!” sound. Huh! Yellow-rumped Warbler? INDEED! A whole group of them were occupying the East end. One even chased out a Townsend’s Warbler!
While enjoying seeing them for the first time this season, a Hermit Thrush was allofasudden sitting amongst them in a bare (young California Buckeye?) tree. Calling, eversosweetly. I stayed there for some time, just watching them all. After leaving them, I noted Coffeeberry berries and some random Kashmir Balsam I’d never seen before. A couple bits of flowering Red-flowering Currant were hiding under a tree, which is CRAZY EARLY. Some Coastal Bush Lupine and Wartleaf Ceanothus brightened up an otherwise dreary-looking day in the garden.
I looked up and saw the fog barreling through. With the amount of time I had left and the current weather conditions, I decided to just visit the Lily Pond before some happy houring at the bandshell with Brian.
Walked back through the CAS Botanical Garden, from West to East (which I never do). And, after passing the bikes, I dipped in and was walking past the Coffeeberry when allofasudden a Townsend’s Warbler was literally THREE FEET from my face. Doing its best to consume the Coffeeberry berries. I froze, as I do when I have an unexpected close encounter with wildlife. And, it didn’t notice me for a spell.
I can’t tell you the joy I get from these moments. It is IMPOSSIBLE TO DESCRIBE. THE JOY. THE PROFOUND JOY.
I watched it, not seeing me yet. Working on those berries. At one point, it saw me briefly. Out of the corner of its eye. And it calmly began to hop further and further away for safety. And, I understood it needing to do that. I thanked the universe for the encounter and calmly made my way out.
Figured I might as well check the owl nursery on my way to the Lily Pond. Haven’t seen them there in a bit, but you never know. AND THEY WERE THERE. I believe Ma Owl was in the East end, with Pa Owl in the West end. But, I can’t be sure. It was entirely shocking to see them both there. I looked around but didn’t see a third. It really does feel like they’re making sure Junior doesn’t return. But, it is only a feeling.
I walked the back way around the Lily Pond. All was quiet, except for a group of Mallards, one Black Phoebe, and the Great Blue Heron of the Lily Pond. Lots of spider webs, but I didn’t catch sight of one.
Passed by the owl nursery again on my way to the Bandshell, and the two owls hadn’t moved. Pa Owl was starting to preen. Ma Owl was still catching Zs. Owl photos below for the owl fans.
At about 6pm, I headed from the Bandshell to the owl nursery. I was so excited to see what would happen. Expecting hooting. Wondering if they’d chase after the other. All that good stuff. But when I got there, they were gone.
Looked around. NOPE. I started up the back trail, thinking they must have already started making their way East. Looked up at that corner euc, and there was an owl. Facing East. Just above me. Undisturbed by me. Turns out another owl was still in the nursery, too. Missed that walking by!
The owl in the euc started hooting, and I knew then it was Pa Owl. He’d hoot. Then look back at Ma Owl. Turn around, then hoot again. Soon after, he flew to a Coast Live Oak just East of the euc. I tried to keep an eye on both to watch them fly off. But I looked back at Pa Owl, and he was gone. Looked quickly to Ma Owl, and SHE WAS GONE.
It all happened so quickly. A bit dissatisfying not to have seen either fly out of the area. But my afternoon of Naturing reminded me of the olden days when I would spend so much time with them. Watching them and seeing them head East for their night. How they BOTH flew out without me seeing it is just nutso.
It’s amazing. It still amazes me. How they can do that. They are the original ninjas, folks.