Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Miss Fairfield is ready for her close-up

I'm a bit behind with this, since Anna's already posted her tracking report for the day, but yesterday was also a good day for tracking owls - even with a TV crew in tow.

On Tuesday Aura Stauffer, Anna and I, along with King's Gap park director Scott Hackenburg, took Rob Dixon of WHTM-27, the ABC affiliate in Harrisburg, out to find Fairfield.

While we were grateful that our two tagged owls were still around, I'm sure Rob and his cameraman were wishing the one we picked to track hadn't been playing hard-to-get, since Fairfield was hanging out in the same dense laurel thicket just over the line in Michaux State Forest she's been so fond of lately. We thought from the signal she'd moved down the mountain, but it was actually a long climb for them, lugging a huge video camera and 40-pound tripod (which Scott H. carried most of the time).

Aura explains why sane people follow small owls (©Scott Weidensaul)

Anna and Aura were doing the tracking, thrashing through the 10-foot-high laurel. Aura, waving her yagi antenna, had just said, "She's got to be right here somewhere," when Anna, about 10 feet away, gasped and pointed - basically at Aura's head. In between the two women sat Fairfield, at head-height in a laurel thicket.

The cameraman got some terrific footage of her, and Rob's report aired a few hours later. You can see the video here.

Rob Dixon, reporting from one place he (and his cameraman) probably never thought they'd wind up. (©Scott Weidensaul)

Fairfield, who must be getting used to the attention (©Scott Weidensaul)

Aura, collecting data the only way you can in this kind of stuff -- completely prostrate. We will do pretty much anything for this project. (©Scott Weidensaul)

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