Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanks for the owl!

On Thanksgiving, AB and I went to Bethel to spend the holiday with her parents and grandma. We all had a great time, including a Scrabble victory by yours truly (courtesy of an illegal letter trade from AB's mom so I could spell fusilium (which I don't actually know is a real word heh heh), use all my letters (a BINGO!) on my last move, and end the game! A whole lot of cheating went on there, I think, but it was all in good fun!

I had also seen on the Maine listserv that there had been a Northern Hawk Owl seen near Fryeburg, which was only a 40-minute drive from Bethel, so how could we NOT go try for the owl?

Usually, what happens on these little "twitching" missions when I drive for a bird, I "dip" on the bird -- I don't see it. (I don't know who thought of these terms like "twitch" and "dip;" I just picked 'em up on the listservs). I drove over three hours once with Gretchen and birding heroes Alex and Anna to see a Black-headed Gull. Result: Dip. I've dipped on crossbills in Pennsylvania, Eastern Grosbeaks in Maine.

So what happened this time?

BINGO.

Northern Hawk Owl, digi-binned with my phone-cam and bins! It was awe-inspiring. We got to the road where the owl had been seen; it was only about two miles long, so we just turned onto the road and crept along, eyes peeled. Wouldn't you know that AB saw it first with her eagle eyes.

AB: That light pole looks taller than the other ones....
DG: (head swiveling all around) Where, where?!
AB: Look, right over there (pointing)!
DG: OH MY GOD! THAT'S HIM!
He was perched on a pole about 50-60 yards away; he then flew into a tree in front of a farmhouse, about 100+ yards away.

Suddenly, he flew out of the trees STRAIGHT AT US! He flew across the road, in front of our parked car, maybe ten feet away! He then swooped straight up and perched on the light pole right across the road from the car!

I was on the passenger side, across from the owl, so I sllllooooowwwlly opened my car door, laid my bins, pointing up toward the owl, on the roof of the car, put my phone up to the bins, and snapped away. I got several photos, including the one above, and then crept back into the car. He just looked at us for a few more seconds, with full-on disapproval, and then flew away.

AB and I just kinda sat there, totally freaked out. That moment was among my best birding experiences of this whole year. Even AB loved it.

1 comment:

Rabbits' Guy said...

Nice story!

I was out with some folks today to count nests in a Heron Rookery. We were grouped in a parking lot getting organized and the guy next to me mumbles "cross bills" and the guy next to him says, "I think so." The first guy says "My eyesight isn't too good without my binoculars but I hear them." So we all looked up and there went a flock of them!