Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New Tiscornia record

Yesterday morning I walked out on the pier after a very good night of migration on the radar just as it was starting to sprinkle.  There were a few passerines filtering down the pier, some juncos and a phoebe when I noticed the gulls at the end swirling about in attack mode.  I assumed they'd corraled some hapless songbird when I noticed the blunt-winged batting flight of an owl pop out in silhouette.  I got my bins on the bird for a second before it ducked back behind the red lighthouse.  This is what I expected to see (file photo from a few years ago):
Short-eared is by far the most common owl at Tiscornia (and the only one a person would expect to see over the course of the year there).  It's actually the only owl I've ever seen there, though Snowy is a bird that I would have predicted I'd have had by now.  I noticed in the brief glimpse that the bird seemed darker than average and thought it must be a female, since the females have more buffy beneath than the whiter males.

I drew the camera and waited for the bird to pop out.  It was hard to focus since I'm not used to birds flying towards me.  100 yards, just blur.  75 yards, just blur.  50 yards, briefly pseudo-focused (boy it seems dark).  25 yards:
Uhhh, not a Short-eared.  The Long-eared tried to land on the ironwork for about half a second (channeling its inner frigatebird) then looped past me.
I bet there's not many pics of Long-eared's flying over water.  It landed, this time on the pier for about 5 seconds, and then continued inland, escorted by the gulls.
I ran down the pier hoping to see where it would duck in.  I think it must have briefly landed in the dune grass because I ended up beating it back to the parking lot, with the bird re-appearing over the restrooms and then hooking north.  I lost it behind the dune.

I walked back out to make sure there weren't any passerines sheltered behind the lighthouse but the rain was going in earnest and I didn't spend long with the ducks before I left.

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