Thursday, January 8, 2009

Gemini, Lexi, and Maria still in area!

Can you spot Lexi?

Ice blankets Michaux State Forest

Another ice storm blanketed Michaux State Forest and King's Gap State Park two nights ago. Usually following an ice storm in the area, the temperatures rise and all of the ice melts within a day or so, creating a soggy mess. With temperatures staying low, however, the ice has stuck around, creating an icy masterpiece in the woods. I set out early this morning to find Gemini, as small chunks of ice were falling from the trees as the sun warmed everything up. I soon found her 35 meters away from a tree I had found her in on their third of January, in a large white pine stand. Today, she was about 52 feet up in a white pine, and easy to spot, as she was quite puffed up to stay warm.
On the 4th of January, I was able to track all three owls. I found Gemini about 40m away from a tree she had used late last month, in a white pine stand that she had been favoring. I then found Maria in a pitch pine that Quasi had used on November 9th. This is the second time Maria has used the same tree as another of our owls. To the human eye, the tree looks quite similar to the hundreds of other pitch pines in the forest, but there is something quite attractive to it from a saw-whet's perspective. I then found Lexi in a very thick mountain laurel patch, only a few feet off the ground. She was intent on watching me collect data, but never seemed overly jumpy or frightened, as owls sometimes do when found at this height. I was able to snap a few photos. The first photo above demonstrates just how well a saw-whet can be camouflaged in such a thick patch of mountain laurel.

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