[Tweeters] Skamania County Big Day

vogelfreund at comcast.net vogelfreund at comcast.net
Mon Jan 28 00:45:37 PST 2013

Many years ago, me and another temporary restaurant worker were trying to call Barred Owls along a path in south Bellingham, using a now primitive cassette recorder with pre-recorded calls. It was twilight in late winter, March I think it was. A bat flew between us at chest level and kept on at that height down the trail. I heard some weird sound as it came from behind. It was bull-headed in shape, and seemed in an ornery mood. I later concluded it was a Silver-haired Bat. They are loners.

Phil Hotlen
Bellingham, WA

----- Original Message -----
From: notcalm at comcast.net
To: "Wilson Cady" <gorgebirds at juno.com>
Cc: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2013 1:37:17 AM
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] Skamania County Big Day

Hello Wilson,

I had a very similar experience with "a bat" a few years ago. I made Saw-whet calls in a small park in Tacoma, thinking it extremely unlikely I would get a response. We had been looking for an unusual Red-tailed hawk near sunset and at dark I said: "this looks like a place to find a Saw-whet. Do you want to see if we can call one in?" I have no idea why I said that. In fact, I had never had a response from an owl. I called and almost immediatley, something flew around us, just above our heads. It came very close and my friend actually quickly slumped to the ground and said "what was that?" I laughed and replied, "a bat- wouldn't have expected to see one at this time of year." It approached three different times at very close range. My only similar and frequent experience was with bats hunting very close to me while fishing at various times throughout my life. It is why I did not start when it flew around me.

Days later, after posting the episode on tweeters, I received an e-mail from a Saw-whet expert.

I think his comment was: Dan, if you call a Saw-whet and something flies around you each time that you make the call, it is probably not a bat, it is a Saw-whet". He explained that this would be a normal behavior for a female Saw-whet on territory. It was curious and was investigating the source of the call. I actually laughed out loud when he responded, realizing he was a real expert on this species and I had no doubt he was right and of course was thrilled.

So, maybe you did have a bat and heard a Saw-whet, or... one or two Saw-whets....... pretty neat!

Dan Reiff
----- Original Message -----
From: "Wilson Cady" <gorgebirds at juno.com>
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Sent: Friday, January 25, 2013 9:55:49 PM
Subject: [Tweeters] Skamania County Big Day

Les Carlson thought that we should try and improve on the Skamania County January Big Day record of 58 that we set last year. So today, Les and Russ Koppendrayer and I ran another one, coming up with 69 species. At first light we had NORTHERN HARRIER and WILSON'S SNIPE on Fitzgerald Road in the morning but dipped on the Short-eared Owls. At the St.Cloud Recreation Area there was a COMMON LOON in the Columbia River and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW in the orchard with dozens of Varied Thrush. There were both TRUMPETER and TUNDRA SWANS at the Franz Lake NWR and a EURASIAN WIGEON was at Skamania Landing. At the adjacent Doetsch Pond sector of the Beacon Rock State Park, we once again saw the RED-SHOULDERED HAWK.. A stop at Home Valley Park gave us three shorebirds, KILLDEER, SPOTTED SANDPIPER and WILSON'S SNIPE. At the east end of the county we added CALIFORNIA QUAIL and WILD TURKEY. We returned to Fitzgerald Road at 5PM to try again for SHORT-EARED OWLS, this time we were successful in seeing one perched out in the open preening for nearly 20 minutes before it started hunting. Thinking that that this was a good end for the day we headed for my place were after unloading my gear we played another owl call and were rewarded almost immediately with a vocal NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL. The really surprising sighting was of a bat flying around our heads as the owl was calling.

Wilson Cady
Columbia River Gorge, WA
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