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January 2008

OWL: Ace makes brief return

Ace_in_place   Ace the screech owl made a one-day return over the weekend. My wife and I got back from a brief trip on Saturday afternoon, and the first thing I saw when I looked out the window was Ace's head in the back of the opening.
   I did not try to take any photos of him at the opening.
   I figured he was just too skittish.
   He did not return on Sunday morning or today, but at least I know is still around, safe and sound.
   On Sunday, I put up some nylon twine around the perimeter of the nesting area in hopes of keeping people away.
   Right now is peak ice skating time at the Celery Farm, and there all sorts of people walking around, unsure of where they are going. Better to steer them away from Ace's area, even if Ace is not around.
   I think Ace will be back for breeding season in March.

Kest fest


Kestair My wife and I visited Hawk Mountain again this weekend and were fortunate to see a pileated woodpecker (but he was impossible to photograph.
  We also saw three kestrels, which I was lucky enough to photograph.
   The falcon on the right was sitting on a telephone wire as we drive by.
    I stopped the car and caught this shot of him flying away.
Kestfemjpg_2thing I learned is that kestrels are very skittish.
   You can  photograph them from the car, but it is a terrible idea to get out of the car and photograph them, because they will fly away.
   More on kestrels here.
   As we headed down the road a piece, I stopped by some farmland where I know from experience t hat kestrels hang out.
   I was quite pleased to see a male and female perched not far from each other.
   You really need a long lens for these birds, but I don't have one, so I did the best I could.

Celery Farm UFOs


   In recent days, strange circular objects have been seen zipping around Lake Appert. Every once in a while these black monoliths stop, but not often.
   I managed to take photos of two of them early in the morning, while they were asleep. Sometimes I think they must be made from carbon or some other exotic substance, but they seem to have a life of their own.
   Could they be extra-terrestrial?
   If anyone has any knowledge about these strange discs, they should contact the authorities.


OWL: Update



  No sign of Ace for almost two weeks now.

   Pictured here is the empty box of wood chips. Looks pretty inviting to me.

   The good news is that the squirrel has not been back to the nesting box either.  Every morning I check the monitor, but the box is empty.
   Occasionally the chicakdees and titmice fly up to the box to see if Ace is around. They are no doubt thrilled that he is gone.
   I am still hoping that between now and mid-March, Ace will be back on the case. I am told by a fellow screech owler in Massachusetts that it is not uncommon for the male to leave for a few weeks this time of year, so all is possible.
   Still, he had been in the nesting box for more than 30 days in a row until early January, and I got used to activating the monitor each morning and seeing his sleeping self.
    Now that I took down the feeders to discourage the squirrels from hanging around, I don't have nearly as many birds stopping by.
    In the grand scheme of things, this is trivial stuff.  But it is also a reminder to me: When you've got a good thing going, never take it for granted.

NEWS ALERT: Spring around corner



Although it is supposed to be colder for a little while, the housing market finally appears to be heating up.

   I saw a sparrow checking out the bedraggled little chickadee box in the back yard.

   The bird was joined briefly by another sparrow, who I am thinking was a female becausSparrow2e she had paint color samples and a measuring tape.

   I am guessing the birds might be house sparrows, but cannot for the life of me figure out how they got their name.
   By the way, another prospective renter showed up and was immediately given the boot -- a little Carolina wren.
   Sometimes you really wish you could choose your neighbors.