Friday, April 7, 2017

Cattus Island CP 4/7--Eastern Screech-Owl

Eastern Screech-Owl
I knew there was an Eastern Screech-Owl in Cattus Island CP, but for a long time, I didn't know where. One day last month, after getting a hint, I went over there and examined a number of trees looking for the proper one, but, after taking a few pictures and sending them off to one in the know, I never found it. I felt like I was playing that kid's game: You're getting warm, warmer, no, cold, colder, you're freezing...

Then my friend took pity on me and made a, literally, step by step video on his phone of where the owl was and sent it to me: Start here, take 10 steps, look to your left, go up the trunk...

I went back last week, I think, found the tree, found the hole, did not find the owl. It was either out on an errand or too deep into its roost to be seen.

Today again, I went over there, even though the conditions were not propitious. Screech-owl sometimes like to sun themselves, but today was overcast and windy. Still, I gave it a shot and...there it was, tucked into the bottom of its oblong home. I could see it well with my binoculars, but getting a photo of it proved a challenge, since all the camera recorded was a dark patch in the trunk. But, auto-retouch works and stripped away the needless information to reveal a recognizable owl. Why it turned some of the twigs on the left purple and green I can't say.

What I found amusing was a White-breasted Nuthatch that appeared, walking along just beneath where the owl was, probing for food and calling "eh-eh." The diet of the screech-owl is mostly large insects and small rodents, but they're not especially particular, and will eat earthworms, lizards, and small birds. But since they're nocturnal predators, I guess the nuthatch felt it had the odds with it.

The park's marshes were inundated from the recent rains--they looked more like ponds than marshes and the dirt trails were like walking in a stream bed. High tide didn't help. So there were a couple of spots I wasn't able to get to, but still in all, I wound up with 24 species for my literal slog.
Mallard 3
Bufflehead 2
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 5
Osprey 6
Herring Gull 10
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Mourning Dove 3
Eastern Screech-Owl 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 2
Blue Jay 1
Fish Crow 2
Carolina Chickadee 5
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 2
American Robin 2
Pine Warbler 1
Song Sparrow 5
Red-winged Blackbird 50
Brown-headed Cowbird 5
House Finch 2

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