Saturday, March 01, 2008

Franklin Shorties

This evening I went with my sister and mother to find the short-eared owls that were reported recently in Franklin Township. An initial stop at Negri-Nepote yielded several red-tailed hawks and not much else. The paths were exceptionally muddy, partly because the township had started ripping them up to lay new gravel paths but has not gotten around to finishing the project.

A northern harrier was hunting in the field where the owls had been reported when we arrived. It stayed active until shortly before sunset. Canada geese and mallards were gathering for the night in the nearby D&R Canal and Millstone River. From time to time a group of them would fly up noisily and circle the field before settling back down. Several large flocks of blackbirds passed by on the horizon as well.

About fifteen minutes after sunset, a female short-eared owl appeared from the far corner and started hunting along a depression in the middle of the field. Soon she was joined by a male, and the two owls proceeded to hunt together. In all, they were visible for about ten minutes before disappearing again.