Thursday, December 18, 2008

Goose Pond/Hawthorn Mine CBC and Short-eared Owls

Yesterday, Dec. 17th, I participated in the Goose Pond/Hawthorn Mine Christmas Bird Count. The preliminary results turned up 103 species on a very icy day! Don Gorney and I lucked out and had a section with lots of rarities in Hawthorn Mine. Don even found a Black Scoter, a real gem for the area.

I love to bird in this area, especially in the winter. My favorite bird is found there-the Short-eared Owl, Asio flammeus. We saw about 30 of them yesterday. I have seen hundreds over the years, but I never tire of seeing shorties.
Shorty courtesy of Great River National Wildlife Refuge

I had a fairly good shot of a Shorty, but somehow I was struck by the photo gremlins. Usually the pics show up on my photo card. This time it ended up on my camera's internal memory and dang it if I can't find my cord. If any of my friends or family find my cord to my camera, I will buy you lunch! So I am using public domain photos, for this post.

Short-eared Owls are the coolest birds. I love their eyes, piercing bright yellow orbs encircled with black. They look like Tammy Faye did their make-up. I also love their ability to completely disappear. They can hunker down in the grass, so well-camouflaged, you could walk right by and never even detect them. There is an amazing photography book by Art Wolfe called Vanishing Act. One of my favorite photos has a Short-eared Owl that is totally concealed in grasses.

Short-eared owl courtesy of Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge

Short-eared Owls do not have a traditional "hoot". They bark, a sort of "Nyeep", which reminds me of a Monty Python skit. I love the cute little barks that they utter while they float effortlessly over the grasses looking for tasty vole snacks. Snausages!

The Goose Pond/Hawthorn Mine are located approximately 2 hours southwest of Indianapolis near the towns of Linton, Dugger Sandborn and Pleasantville. If the weather is fairly mild, the short-eared owl show will probably be showing until late January.StumbleUpon

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