Allegany by Moonlight
You keep asking if my Owl season is over! The answer is No but . . . I have run into many reasons for needing to keep the station closed for the past two weeks. Which include fog, rain, high wind, snow, lake effect and tonight temps being around 20 degree F. If I was open this evening . . . . I would be battling the bright moon that is out (see photos). As much as I miss catching and banding these fluff balls . . . . their safety is our first priority. Maybe even with the bright moon tomorrow . . I can open some nets?? Till then I will be trying to get out to take some new pictures!
Normally I am not fond of rain showers but those Geminid meteor showers last night were spectacular. I would like to thank Driftless Skies for alerting me to the Northern Lights and Geminid’s occurring right now. Last night’s watch was very enjoyable due to the warm temperatures and crystal clear skies. I did not encounter any aurora but I think the possibilities tonight will be much better.
Most every night I have been finding myself staying up late because I am unable to break my bad habits from two months of owl banding. But, how could I have missed this meteor shower last night?? When “going” and “returning” home from work in the dark every day, one must find nature activities any chance I get!
I quickly got my butt outside after watching the David Letterman show with his “science kid” guests. It took a few minutes before my eyes could adjust to the darkness but slowly some stars started to appear. I started to wonder “where are these meteors”?? Then you think you see something out of the corner of your eye! Was it – yep it was! Again, Again and Again they fly across the sky with ewww’s and awww’s!!. One or two appeared to have a small tails following as it enters earth’s atmosphere and boy – were they bright. I caught one greenish meteor in the lower southern sky that had to be my favorite for the night. They happen so quickly, you wonder, what color was that one?? Last nights showers were not the best shower ever but was still one of the better ones with meteor’s seen about once every +/- 20 to 30 seconds!!
I started to realizing how much I miss the night time sounds and wildlife. Due to the lake being frozen, I didn’t hear any more Geese honking and Eastern Screech Owls appeared to be very quite. Everything appeared to be so peaceful until those Coyotes started howling. The Coyotes are very commonly heard around the house and I love how once one dog starts howling, many others from across the valley join the song. You can almost distinguish different individual’s howls once you take the time to listen! It almost makes you want to join the pack and howl along!! FYI: I didn’t start howling but really wanted to!! My neighbors already think I am nuts!
After spending more time outside than I should have, I finally made it to bed. Ever close your eyes and reflect everything you just did? Well, couldn’t sleep because those howls stayed in my head and I kept on visualizing those shooting stars streaking across the sky!! Only difference was that I wasn’t getting any warbler neck trying to look up at the stars for a half-hour straight. But, those are the moments that you remember forever.
I only hope weather allows me to give tonight another try with the possibilities of the Northern Lights appearing. I hope you get out as well and enjoy the natural light show instead of watching your television. Ok, its Thursday night and maybe I will do both!
Sun, Stars and the Night Sounds
I find myself turning off my headlamp after checking the nets for owls!! There is nothing like walking through the woods in the absolute darkness. It’s only you and the sparkling stars which are leading you back to the banding station. Yes, I slip in the mud, crunch in the frozen leaves and even trip over twigs, but there is no way I would have wanted to miss that green shooting star streaking across the sky. Looking up, I see my favorite star cluster which takes me back to the main part of the road. Hmmm ….. Oooo ….. wait…… what is that cluster called??? Ugg, I can never remember those star names!!
When you find yourself in total darkness, your other senses take control. What are those squeaking sounds?? Isn’t this where I always see that Peromyscus mouse looking for food in the mud?? What’s that smell?? Are those Geese down on the lake?? No wait, that’s a pack of coyotes vocalizing?? Quickly, headlamp comes on; flash light come out from the pocket; I start walking quicker.
This is the coldest it has been since early November when we were hit with the lake effect snow. Even with the sun out today, the temperatures never got above 37 degrees F. I seriously considered taking the day off of work to get out enjoying the sun. But, I continued the numerous projects that I was working on and dreamed about the possibilities of catching a fluff ball tonight.
The past two nights had perfect North West winds which resulted in no birds. Now tonight we had light South West winds and resulted in catching three Northern Saw-whet Owls. One of which was a foreign recaptured bird (originally banded by someone else) from Ontario Canada in 2005. Isn’t it amazing that I can report a band number to the Bird Banding Lab and within seconds have its life history? Then again, isn’t it amazing your all reading my blog and finding out what I have been up to??
BTW: I remember now, Cassiopeia is the star cluster which I love! Why can’t I remember this Queens name?? You think I would remember!!