Now for the cops. The cops have not questioned me in the disappearance of the Oriole if that's what you were thinking. Patty and I did a big day in Delaware to try to scoop up some bird species that we need for the stupid contest. I made a list and planned a route that took us all the way down to Indian River Inlet which is below Rehoboth and Dewey Beach to get an Eared Grebe. Needless to say, I was driving faster than the speed limit on Route 1. They had a pretty intensive speed trap set up and busted me. We took advantage of the forced stop to scan for Pipits and Larks in the field, but all we got was an $80 ticket.
|Looking for Pipits
We crossed the bridge for a third time and headed out to the jetty at the end of the inlet to scope for other birds. We had close looks at Great Cormorants, a few ducks and scoters but no Snow Buntings which we were really hoping to see. This is a pretty good photo of Great Cormorant as it flew past us into the inlet.
|Pine Siskin, Brown-headed Nuthatch, House Finch
We didn't get the Stilts or Avocets, but we did get owls. In fact, we got 5 species of owls in a matter of 2 hours, which is just unbelievable to me. A few people in our club know Bombay Hook like the back of their hands and told us that there are Barn Owls nesting in the maintenance shed. Although that area is off limits to visitors, we were told that you can hear the owls scream from the parking lot and occasionally get to see the owls flying past as they depart for a night of hunting so we planned to hang around the parking lot. I mentioned something to the ranger in the visitor center about this and she told us that we were not allowed in the park after dark. No big deal. We would just park outside of the gate.
She also told us that we might be able to hear a Barred Owl back in the woods at Finniss Pool and may be able to see a Screech Owl poking his head out of a Wood Duck box if we were lucky. We drove to the Finniss Pool area and parked. I made my Barred Owl call - "who cooks for you, who cooks for allllll" a few times then, an amazing thing happened - a Barred Owl called back to me from the other side of the water. We almost fell over. This has never happened to me before. The call has never worked until now.
We pressed our luck and stopped at another patch of woods to see if we could get a Screech Owl. This time, we played a taped call from our iPhones. Miraculously, a Screech Owl called back from deep in the woods! Owl number 2. We also heard a Great-horned Owl call from the woods - number 3. We stopped along the road to scan the marshes for Short-eared Owl and got to see the Great-horned owl perched in a tree. We saw a few Harriers and a possible Short-eared owl, but couldn't confirm it. The ranger came along and told us that we needed to leave the park, so we headed to the main gate and parked outside with about 6 other carloads of people who were also hoping for Barn Owl and Woodcock display. A large owl flew past the group which looked like a Great-horned. We stood there for 30 minutes. Some people left. Finally at 6:37, the Barn Owl screamed from the maintenance area. Success! Owl number 4. We stood there with 2 other people hoping to hear it again when all of a sudden, another owl flew past us. This owl had long wings and wasn't flapping - Short-eared Owl - number 5 for the day. Holy crap. 5 owl species in 2 hours. Holy crap. Totally worth the trip and the speeding ticket.