Saturday, February 11, 2017

Cedar Run Dock Road 2/11--Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owls, Cedar Run Dock Road
I'm cheating a little bit here. Technically, my first look at a Short-eared Owl came about an hour earlier at Mott's Creek flying in the distance over the marshes either in Ocean, Burlington, or Atlantic Counties, impossible to say exactly where. It was identified by Pete by shape and flight pattern. It was such a crappy, unsatisfying look that I was loathe to list it, but I did see what Pete was saying and I learn from the master.

We then drove up to Forsythe's section along Cedar Run Dock Road in West Creek, a location that historically has hosted Shorties, though, since Sandy, they have been scarce. However, their food supply of voles and mice, which presumably was drowned in the storm, has apparently recovered and with the recovery the owls have returned.

Last week, Shari & I drove down there to celebrate her birthday at a restaurant at the end of the road, overlooking the bay and, my ulterior motive, to look for owls. We ran into Pete & Mike there and some other friends. Bottom line: Everybody, Shari included, saw at least a couple of Short-eared Owls. Everybody but me. It was a typical directional instruction mishmash with landmarks like short cedar tree, flashing tower (all the towers are flashing!) humpy bush, etc. So this afternoon I was happy to return for a 2nd try.

We weren't there very long, scanning the west side of the road where they've been seen of late, before Pete found one on the east side of the road, of course. I had a lousy angle, sitting in the back of the car, so I bolted outside and was able to get really nice looks at the owl as it swooped around in its typical floppy flight pattern.

Then the owl must have realized it was on the wrong side of the road because it flew right in front of us to the west side. I didn't binoculars for this look as I could see every detail of its facial disk as it seemingly glanced at me from twenty feet away.

It was then joined by another owl (and another that I wasn't able to see) and they flew around the marsh as the gloaming set in. I was able to get the rather impressionistic photo above. If you click on the photo it will enlarge and probably become even more artistic than it is now, but you can see the two owls flying right. Right?

I was pretty much done for the day with the owl but we made one more stop, as I mentioned in the Brig post, at the Bridge to Nowhere (also a section of Forsythe) where we picked up Mike's FOY Rough-legged hawk. For the day I tallied 54 species, 4 of them year birds.

It's supposed to rain all day tomorrow. I could use the rest.

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