Sunday, November 2, 2008

Better times

We've finally seen a decent push of migrant saw-whets the past two nights, with 36 new owls, bringing us to 142 for the season. Saturday night we had 13 each at Hidden Valley and Small Valley (two of the SV owls foreign birds which, judging from their band numbers, were marked at the same station a short time apart), and two at King's Gap. After several nights of near-ideal conditions and poor numbers, it was nice to see double digits.

During the day Saturday I was in the field radio-tracking with research intern Drew Weber, research tech Anna Fasoli and Anna's mother, in town for a visit. Drew and I tracked down Quasi, who was in the upper King's Gap Hollow area, sitting about 50 feet up in a pitch pine, eating a mouse. Anna and her mom found Morticia in the lower section of the hollow, sitting just 10 feet up in a young white pine.

Drew digiscoping a photo of Morticia through his binoculars. (©Scott Weidensaul)

Autumn and Fairfield, however, the two owls we'd been tracking the past two weeks, have left their former haunts and may have left the King's Gap/Michaux State Forest area altogether -- searches for them Thursday and Friday came up dry, although they may have simply shifted to areas that block their signals.

There may be even better things ahead for banding -- I just heard from a colleague who nets saw-whets in southeastern New York that he had 44 owls Saturday night, so a major push may be on its way. The first week of November is usually our best week, and we have groups visiting almost every night, so our fingers are crossed.

Meanwhile, Anna and Drew will be conducting night tracking tonight, trying to make up for time we lost last week during the bad weather.

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