Sunday, January 24, 2010

Learn Something New Everyday

That's what I was always told.  Learn something new everyday.  Well we learned something new both Saturday and Sunday this week.

Lesson 1 - You can only see owls at night.  That's what the volunteer at Peace Valley Nature Center told Connie yesterday. We had some extra time after we did our chores and decided to take a quick trip to Lake Galena to see some ducks and gulls.  Upon arrival at the visitor center, I made the mistake of telling Connie that there were restrooms inside.  It's as if those words are somehow an ancient cue buried deep within our DNA that triggers our bladders to suddenly want to explode.  Upon hearing those words, Connie headed toward the visitor center.  I told her to ask the staff if they knew where to find owls since a Long Eared Owl and a Saw-whet Owl were seen last week.  10 minutes later, Connie emerged from the visitor center giggling. 

She asked the woman about owls.  The woman kindly replied that you can only see owls at night but you can see Blue Jays and Cardinals during the day.  Mind you, Connie had a $1000 pair of Leica binoculars around her neck when she asked the question.  She even went so far as to tell the woman that she has seen owls during the day "high up in the tree".  The woman responded by telling Connie that she didn't know any more because she only works at the center during the day.  What a riot.  Needless to say we didn't see any owls.

Lesson 2 - Gulls are tasty.  Not that I have tried it myself but Lori and I saw 2 other creatures chowing down on some tasty gull today at Tullytown.  The real lesson for today is that we found another new place to bird around Tullytown landfill.  We drove up this morning with a map from eBird in hopes of finding some gulls and ducks.  What we found were 3 juvenile Bald Eagles standing out on the ice on Van Sciver Lake eating a gull!  Just like that we were within a football field of 3 huge birds.  A few other guys were already there and very helpful.  One guy even told us to follow him to a few other spots including Pennsbury Manor which was right up the road.  Really nice guy. 

We saw another eagle and a few Red-tailed Hawks, 30 or so American Coots, some Common Mergansers and tons and tons of gulls.  Herring, Ring-billed and Great Black-backed gulls everywhere.  Most of Van Sciver Lake was  mostly frozen but any open water was packed with gulls.  You can see how easy it would be for an Eagle to pick one off and why they hang around in winter. We also saw a Red-tailed Hawk trying to fly with a gull in it's talons.  He tried and tried to get altitude but finally settled in a low bush with it. 

There you go.  2 lessons:  owls can only be seen at night and gulls are tasty.

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