Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Owling field trip Saturday March 7th

Fifteen members of the Manistee Audubon and friends met at the Manistee airport on a still, damp, March night for an owling expedition to the Manistee State Game area and part of the Manistee National Forest. We car-pooled out to the State Game Area access to Jenken's Bayou and hiked through the packed snow to the edge of the bayou. After instructions on patient listening Brian Allen used Saw-whet Owl imitations to try to lure in this difficult to find little owl. Despite a very quiet and patient group and ideal still conditions no Saw-whet owl responded, dissapointment!. On to the next species.. Screech Owl. After several tries we heard one trilling nearby but the bird demonstrated little enthusiasm in checking us out. Fortunately a second bird started to call, this time with a more dramatic wail. The second bird came in closer but we were unable to spot it in our flashlights. Some of the group also heard a third owl farther out, three screech owls in this area is a good find even if we were not able to see them.

Next we tried what we though was a sure thing, luring in a Barred Owl. Brian had actually heard one calling as he loaded up the car back at his house, a good omen? For the first time Brian couldn't make the call, a frog in the throat? Tim Granger to the rescue. Tim made many good hearty Barred Owl imitation calls but to no avail. For some reason the owls (they had to be out there) wouldn't call back as we watched the clouds clear and the moon come out behind the tall oaks. On to Rainbow Bend in the National Forest but even here on the along the quiet waters of the river there were no owls responding. Despite not seeing the owls the group seemed happy to have heard the screech owls and we all enjoyed the relatively pleasant night with clearing skies.

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