[Tweeters] Longear Goes A'Hunting - 1/20/15

Barbara Deihl barbdeihl at comcast.net
Wed Jan 21 12:17:42 PST 2015

Besides Shortears, harriers, yellowlegs and Dunlin, there were more cars and people than I had seen to-date out at Eide Rd. And there was one Longear (male?) nicely hidden in that original bramble for much of the afternoon - no amount of complaining or coaxing by the visitors had the viewers' desired effect. Many finally gave up.

But for those with patience and some knowledge of the daily 'routine' of these owls, a real treat was in store. Somewhere around 4, I was told the owl hopped out, took one look at the crowd and hopped back in. When it was good and ready to emerge to hunt, it flew out and around the fields (mostly to the north of the road) and was followed by panting photographers. The owl stopped now and again to dive for prey or do a perch&search. I just plodded along the road, unable to keep up with the masses, but it paid off - suddenly the owl, with a large vole in its talons, was flying right toward me - natch, instead of catching a prize-winning flight shot, I just dropped my jaw and watched it head to a nearby tree and stop for awhile - quite awhile, actually. By that time I had gotten my camera ready and was able to get some nice shots of it and the tree, bathed in that wonderful golden light just before sunset. Ah, heaven !

The cameras clicked, people inched closer and the owl looked nervous (a glaring stare and raised ear tufts), and kept looking from side to side and up and down. Then someone noticed him doing something with the vole - not eating it, but tucking it into a crevice in the broken-off branch area. The owl did seem hesitant to stay and finish the poking and flew out and around the close vicinity of the tree a couple times, swinging by to see if the meal was still 'hidden', and, once confident that it was, he flew again into farther reaches of the fields, like the Pied Piper, leading the human 'rats' on another chase. But the sun was setting and darkness caused the photographers to start packing it in, their ISO's already maxed out. There remained smiles and happy faces in abundance (don't know if the owl was as smiley). Someone got an iPhone pic of the vole in the crack, to certify that it was still there.

There were some final grumblings about this and that amongst us 'followers' as we walked back to our cars, but we pretty much agreed that it had been a splendid watch and birder behavior was good, for the most part, maybe an A- Bird behavior was rated A+ .

A couple of us stayed until almost dark and were treated to "Whooshes" of shorebirds flying right over our heads and down into the pond beyond. How lucky we were to be able to go to such a great spot for our birding recreation.

link to Flickr album: Longear Goes A'Hunting: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk7RS1ng

Wonder how the meeting went last night in Stanwood, re: "To flood or not to flood" (that was the question) ? Sure hope we and the hunters don't lose the Eide Rd. venue...

Catching my breath here near Matthews Beach,

Barb Deihl
barbdeihl at comcast.net

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