[Tweeters] Elk are BIG, Foxes, Bobcats and Boreal Owls are NOT

Blair Bernson blair at washingtonadvisorygroup.com
Sun Sep 27 08:15:09 PDT 2015

I got back very late last night from a visit to
Sunrise at Mount Rainier. The lure had been
recent reports of Boreal Owl sighting/hearings
there. There were others last year as well. But
all visits to Sunrise are great - just a real
treasure. It was quite cloudy most of the time I
was there with visitors disappointed to never get
a view of Mt. Rainier itself although there are
always great views unless it is raining which
despite some gathering clouds it never did.

If the visitors had just stayed until late, they
would have had their views of the mountain as the
clouds cleared and a full moon was very bright and
bathed the peak in very lovely light. The
moonlight was weird for owling however as it never
got completely dark. Waiting for what dark there
was to be, I birded up and down Sunrise Road a bit
and walked some trails and service roads - the
regular Gray Jays and Clark's Nutcrackers and
Juncos plus Yellow Rumped Warbler, both Kinglets,
Golden Crowned and Lincoln's Sparrows, a
Swainson's Thrush, Common Raven, Mountain
Chickadee and Red Breasted Nuthatch. A
"disappointing" find was a single Eurasian
Collared Dove. I know it has invaded everywhere
but somehow had thought Sunrise to be immune - not
so. There were also two hawks - one a very dark
Red Tail and the other an accipiter that I tried
to make into a Goshawk but concluded it was simply
too small and am going with Cooper's.

The owling was both exciting and disappointing. I
heard a seemingly distant territorial repeated
hoop-hoop and a couple moments later a seeming
closer "skiew" call. I had a spotlight and
searched in vain to find it but then for the
briefest second saw what I assumed was the same
owl flying uphill in the moonlight. Never saw it
land and could not locate it in any of the many
trees. Still it was my first actual sighting of a
Boreal Owl after "seeing" one shadow and heard
only observations before. Some day I will get a
photo. This is NOT a large owl...

Per the title of the post, other things that are
not large are foxes and bobcats. As I was owling,
I had an eery feeling and turned to see (clearly
in the moonlight) a fox on the trail not more than
50 feet behind me. It seemed not to care at all
and sauntered off. My camera failed to capture it
- need to learn of settings at night. It was a
spooky feeling as I realized it could have been a
bear or cougar and I was very much alone. Later
coming down from Sunrise but still on Sunrise Road
and in the Park, I had at least 6 very BIG elk on
the side of the road - gray ghosts in the eery
light. And the highlight was a Bobcat that ran
across the road maybe 100 feet in front of the car
- captured in my headlights briefly and then
gone. Compared to the elk seen seconds before it
was tiny indeed.

Last night was another reminder to just get out
there and be open to whatever comes your way...
BIG and small

Blair Bernson

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