Friday, November 7, 2008

I get the sense there's a really terrific couple of nights coming our way once this next cold front clears over the weekend, because we're getting low but steady numbers of birds despite warm, misty, drippy weather. Last night, for instance, we had 10 new NSWOs, despite the fact that, as Guy Ubaghs pointed out at Small Valley, they were closing the nets in shirt-sleeves.

We're at 197 saw-whets, our second-lowest total for the date since we started multiple sites in 1999; the only worse year was 2006, when we were at 86 owls for the date. That year we more than doubled our Nov. 6 total in the subsequent two weeks, so we'll see what happens between now and about Nov. 20. (The 10-year average to date is 304, and last year's total for Nov. 6 was 713.)

At King's Gap, Kim Van Fleet's crew banded one of the heaviest saw-whets she's ever handled, a beefy female that tipped the scale at 112.3g. If memory serves, the very heaviest we've ever had was around 116-120g, so this is the upper echelon of fat (er, big-boned) NSWOs.

We have one more mild, damp night to get through tonight, but a major cold front is sweeping across the entire eastern half of the country, reaching far out into the Gulf of Mexico. It will usher in a very different weather pattern for next week, with highs only in the 40s or 50s, and Saturday through Monday nights should be nearly ideal.

We continue to track Morticia and Quasi in King's Gap park; an attempt to relocate Autumn and Fairfield earlier in the week came up dry. The owls are staying pretty much where they've been -- Quasi keeps shifting between two roost trees on the southern boundary of the park, while Morticia roams a bit more, bouncing between King's Gap and Maple hollows. We plan on gearing up for more night tracking in the next few evenings, weather and personnel permitting.

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