Monday night we went on our much-anticipated owl watching adventure! We got to the patch of woods while it was still light and wandered around some. We spooked some game birds; we're definitely going to have to get better at identifying them. It's hard when they just about startle you out of your wits and quickly disappear, while making an incredible amount of noise! They all kind of look like chickens to me. Although, Will saw one that just ran away from him, and he said it looked like a small grey goose.
Then we sat down in a clearing at the center of the woods to watch as dark came. I made the huge mistake of forgetting Asya's beloved pacifier, so we had trouble keeping her quiet. Jaan and Raia were very happy to sit quietly and savor the special treat of Skittles, but that didn't work for Asya. She just wanted to cram them all in her mouth and scream for more.
Soon we started hearing the owl, though! That interested even Asya, and she settled down some. We're pretty sure that our owl is a Short-eared Owl. (I'll explain why we think that another time.) They don't always make the traditional "hoo-hoo" sound, but we had listened to recordings of their call over and over before going out, so we recognized the screaming. Will says that they sound like monkeys.
Will walked around more and scared the owl towards us. It actually landed in a tree straight in front of us, but not close enough to get a clear view. It was definitely an owl, but other than that, I couldn't see much. We could see how its head was swiveling back and forth! And then it took off and seemed to be hunting in circles around us, along the edges of the clump of woods. We could hear it going around and around and catch glimpses every once in a while.
Will also made more birds move in our direction. We saw the silhouette of a pheasant directly over us against the last bit of light reflected in the clouds. Also, once it was completely dark, some kind of large bird landed in a big nest right over our heads! We had thought it was an abandoned squirrel nest there, but we saw a large, ghostly bird--in the night, it kind of looked white--come and land there. Its wings seemed to make a loud click noise each time they moved. I have no idea what it was!
So, we got to see our owl and a whole lot more! Jaan and Raia stayed closely pressed against on the way back; they were a little scared. But they were all glowing from the excitement of a nighttime nature walk. Today they told a friend of ours that "we go out for walks at night to watch owls!"
Raia came back saying that she wants to draw lots and lots of owls, and she has started on that. Plus, we dissected some of the owl pellets that we found. I still have more to write about owls, but at least now you have heard about our big owl adventure.