When we left the beach and started back, we decided to cut through a patch of woods that we hadn't explored before. Our first find there:
At that point, our camera battery ran out, so you'll have to imagine all the rest of the excitement in that little thicket. (We have a new camera, thanks to my aunt. It's wonderful! And this is the first time the battery has run out in two weeks of using it constantly. The contrast to our elderly camera is incredible.)
Right after we found and examined a low woodpecker hole, we started finding feathers everywhere. They were beautiful! I kept some of the prettiest (photo below). Then Will saw some kind of large bird, off in the trees. Because of the feathers, we guessed that it might have been a pheasant, but he really didn't get a good look at all. We kind of scattered out, and all of us made discoveries. (Well, poor Asya was trapped in her stroller, but I don't think she felt left out. She was quite interested and entertained.) We found more and more feathers from various birds, most of a wing, clumps of rabbit fur, areas where the ground was all scratched up, and droppings from some kind of large game bird, too. Then we found where an owl had been sitting! There was "kaka" all around, and also owl pellets. (That's my new Russian vocabulary, by the way: погадки. ) So many signs of wildlife in such a small area! As we wandered around, Jaan and I saw a squirrel, too. This one wasn't a regular red squirrel, it was pink! Really, it was much lighter than usual, almost white with slight red highlights. It went right into a nest. While Jaan watched, I ran back to call everyone else. They got a glimpse of it, too. Again, Will saw his large bird, and this time he was pretty sure that it was the owl! We're planning an evening trip back to this area soon, hopefully to see or hear the owl.