Saturday, October 18, 2008

King's Gap first 2008 telemetry owls

Yesterday I located our two owls that were equipped with radio transmitters by Aura Stauffer Thursday night at King’s Gap. The first was roosting in a white pine just off a trail that leads to the Pond Area from the parking lot. A nearby group of children from Fairfield Middle School left just as I spotted her, but not before Kim of the DCNR staff at King’s Gap explained to them that I was tracking a very small secretive owl. Stephanie, also of the DCNR staff at the park, suggested we name the owl “Fairfield” after the school group. As I was collecting habitat data on Fairfield, she dozed in and out of sleep, and sometimes watched me intently. Again, as with Dizzy, I witnessed an aerial attack on the owl. It started with one small chickadee, and soon, at least 25 songbirds descended on Fairfield for about ten minutes. This is something the owls must get used to when they pick a more visible roost location.

From Fairfield’s location, I heard the faint “beep” of our second owl. I headed up King’s Gap Road, and didn’t have to go far to narrow down her location. She was less than a quarter of a mile east south east of the net lanes on the steep south facing slope of the hillside in a very tall pitch pine. It was a brisk fall day, so I named this one “Autumn.” She was much higher up than that last owl, and barely looked at me as I circled her.

Hopefully these two new birds will stay in the area long enough for us to collect data about both their roosting locations and their night time activity ranges at King’s Gap.

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