Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Last Night in the Yard

On a quick reconnoiter this morning to check the tracks in the yard I came upon this print in the snow among the rabbit tracks.

Still too grey--I know, but it gives an impression of what I saw.

Snow is not the little digital camera's forte. It has a "snow" setting" but still, as always, I had to mess with these images quite a bit to try to get them out of the neutral range--they are still too grey. Days like this I miss my old Asahi Pentax Spotmatic--fully manual, easy to get the right exposure. (I still have it, but it needs repairs I can't afford right now--and I'm hooked on the immediacy of the digital.)

From the side

Rabbit tracks run right through the print, so not the tracks of sucessfully captured prey I think. Not clear just what happened here--but I suspect that this is the mark of a great horned owl (GHOW).

This wing print was a few feet away.

As I finished taking a few shots I heard a terrible crow ruckus coming from the fields. Blue jays joined in. I started back to see if I could locate them, with owls on my mind. I could see the fuss centred on a bit of the near edge of the cedar bush. As I walked up the object of the harassment flushed and flew off in the direction of the far field. All I saw was big, brown, low-flying and flapping. Could it be that this was the very GHOW that had visited the yard last night?

The blue jays stayed in the cedar bush, and continued to call. The crows, 5 or 6 of them, took off in hot pursuit. The object of their chase apparently landed again beyond the edge of the far field. The winds were brisk--the temperature about -15C, and chasing birds across fields over snow and ice is a mug's game, so I stayed where I was to see if the bird would flush back into view. The fuss continued for a few more minutes, then all together the crows stopped calling and flew off. Had their quarry flown out of their area of concern too low for me to see it--or did the crows figure that they'd made their point, and could now go on with their day?


Dave Dorsey said...

I don't know Pamela, Corvids usually stick to it until their threat is out of their territory.

TroutGrrrl said...

Very cool Pamela. I went out yesterday evening, camera in hand, hoping to find some good tracks or prints in the new snow too. I didn't find much worth photogging or blogging about - just deer and rabbit tracks, mouse tunnels and bird hops. I really only thought of it because you've enthusiastically reported on your cool findings so often - Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Snow art! I used to love finding these 'stamps' in unbroken snow. With us, they mostly occurred - of course- in the field, but often right next to the house where little critters like mice and moles ran about under the snow.

Pamela Martin said...

Dave, thanks for the comment. Yes, that's what I thought really. The bird being harassed may well have flown away too low for me to see it, ending the incident. It was very sudden, all the crows just flew up from the trees and flew away, quiet and apparently happy. I'll have to try to see as the breeding season commences whether there is other evidence that the spot is on a crow property line.

Troutgrrrl, thanks for the kind words--I'm very glad to have inspired another tracker. And glad that we have tracking snow again--hard to believe that spring is around the corner!

Trix, thanks for the comment--sounds like you used to get many more of these than I do! This is only my second really good owl print in the yard in several years.

Kati said...

Love those tracks in the snow! I thought last winter was the year for grey owls, at least in our area. But my friend Mike and I did see one just outside Bobcaygeon on Monday afternoon this week. Naturally, we were driving and I didn't think to stop and try to photograph it...hindsight, etc. etc.

Pamela Martin said...

Yes, I've been hearing about great grays in the Bobcaygeon area and around Ottawa--sadly none have come as far south as Thomasburg that I've heard about or seen.

Anonymous said...

the tracks/imprints definitely tell the story- I've often found goshawk impressions, but never an owl yet.. great find! Thanks for sharing the photos, by this time of year our property is so covered in deer tracks that it makes tracking anything else almost impossible.