[Tweeters] Saw-whet Owl -- LHG Bellevue

Pterodroma at aol.com Pterodroma at aol.com
Wed Feb 27 04:58:03 PST 2013

Notes from the field: Lake Hills Greenbelt (LHG), Bellevue, WA
27Feb – OWL PROWL – 0255-0349 (0.9hrs), partly cloudy (30%) below thinly
filtered full moon, wind S2-4, temperature 40F. Begin and end at Phantom
Lake parking lot, walking north to and thru the central section hemlock/cedar
grove and back. Results: Saw-whet Owl (1)!!! I couldn’t resist all the
caterwauling Barred Owls emanating from my home turf area all night long,
even during the rain (Eastgate Park, 2-3 blocks west), but post rain, clearing
skies, and full moon, I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I skipped out
on making an in the dark run on the greenbelt. The walk was quite
lackluster and utterly silent until the very end. On my return and anticipated
disappointed empty-handed departure, as I neared the Phantom Lake restroom and
parking area adjacent to a tract of evergreens (cedars, hemlock, Douglas
Fir), I tried one last time imitating by whistling Saw-whet Owl. Within a
matter of seconds of starting, there was a flurry of something small,
feathered, almost moth-like, silhouetted against the moon light that swooped low
over my head and alighted in the nearest small alder-like tree off the
northwest corner of the restroom, half way up and fully exposed to and
brightly lit up by the outside lighting of the restroom itself. Upon alighting,
the owl then launched into an agitated rapid call back, soft at first then
becoming louder and more insistent. I did not have my bins nor even a
flashlight, and no, I don’t own an ipod (I still do it the old fashioned way),
and just worked my way closer whistling softly and identically back. The owl
didn’t budge for a good 5 minutes, calling back the entire time, and even
under such circumstances, the views were quite satisfactory, even better
than just satisfactory, spectacular actually! After 5 minutes, the owl flew
off to one of the cedars along the north edge of the lawn, just north of
the 3 picnic tables, and started calling from there. Elated by such good
luck and fortune, I just left it at that, got in the car and drove away.
I started making these wee hour walks in January aiming for one or two a
month, this one this morning was actually #3 for Feb. But late Feb into
March, calm nights, full moon, probably the best time of the year, especially
if Saw-whet Owl was the specific target as this one was this morning. New
bird for me in the Lake Hills Greenbelt, and well, a first record for the
greenbelt itself since chief LHG record keeper, Hugh Jennings started
keeping records here 20-25 years ago! Whoopeee!! Nobody wanders around that
place at night, and certainly not without some sort of artificial light
(flashlight), and when I've told some of the regulars that I do, they think I'm
crazy. Wrong on the first count (me), correct on the second (me).
Richard Rowlett
Bellevue (Eastgate), WA

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