Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Night tracking in full swing

For the past 3 nights, the tracking team has been roaming the woods of King's Gap State Park keeping tabs on our 2 owls, Quasi and Morticia.

On saturday night, we were joined by Ann Rhoads and her grandson Ben. We started at the Pond Area parking lot, while Drew braved the dark night alone and headed upslope towards Quasi. Quasi did not venture far from her roost area, and stayed relatively close to both teams the entire night, never making any drastic moves. She was making enough movements to ruin our angle on her, so we moved around a few times in an attempt to maintain a good angle. As the night went on, a cold front moved through, causing us to do what Ben called "the dance of winter" to keep warm. About half an hour before ending, Drew heard a saw-whet call in our general direction, which very well may have been Quasi.

On sunday night, we were joined by volunteers Kim Mihalek and Jennifer Smetzer, and also Scott's nephew Conner. We kept tabbs on both Quasi and Morticia, and managed to stay in ideal locations that gave us an excellent angle on the owls locations. This night was colder yet, and Jen implemented the "funny walk contest," which was not only a way to keep warm, but a fantastic form of entertainment!

Last night, we were joined by volunteers Pat and Carl Leinbach, and Phil Witmer. This time, we again started from the top of Buck Ridge, and worked our way down. Phil and Drew ventured down slope, while Pat, Carl, and I stayed on the upper part of the slope. Both Quasi and Morticia were in range, but they were not as cooperative as the previous night. Regardless, we were still able to get intersecting lines after moving positions a few times. This was the chilliest of the three nights, with temperatures dropping to 29 degrees! It felt even colder with the wind. We stayed warm by jogging in place and taking short trips back up the hillside.

Stay tuned for night activity maps for the owls we've been tracking each night. We will head out again tonight, our last night of the week. As Scott mentioned, we'll be planning a few "all-nighters" to see what the owls are doing until dawn. As always, if you are interested in helping out, please email me at annafasoli@gmail.com.

Thanks to all the volunteers who have been coming out with us, driving from afar, and continually braving the cold temperatures. We really couldn't do it without you!

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