Monday, April 7, 2008

Burrowing Owls! - 04 Apr 2008

Robin and I flew into Fort Myers to visit baby sister Michelle (Dr. Michelle Jourdan) last Friday. It was a clear, breezy afternoon with temps in the upper 80's. T-storms were predicted for late aftenoon, but would never arrive. After landing at Southwest International Airport, we picked up our rental car and drove into Ft. Myers, caught sis before she went back to work, and had lunch in town at Smokey Bones Restaurant. Had we left the restaurant just 2 minutes later, we would've caught (3) Glossy Ibis landing in the ditch along just on the other side of the parking lot. Since we had the afternoon to putz, we drove over to Cape Coral to look for Burrowing Owls. A Birder's Guide to Florida lists a number of places to look for Burrowing Owls, and I headed for the city's Public Library. Sure enough, just across the street from the entrance to the library was a row of wooden T's marking the burrows. The first half-dozen burrows were unoccupied, which wasn't surprising (being that it was the middle of the afternoon). However, just up the street I spotted this fella roosting on one of the T's that marked another burrow. He remained very cooperative as I rolled down the window and proceeded to take over 200 photos of him as he lazed away the afternoon. Beautiful little guy!

Leaving him to his nap I keyed in the city park on my GPS unit to look for Monk Parakeets and more Burrowing Owls along Skyline Rd. I dipped on the parakeets but did see a nice Cooper's Hawk in the area. As I drove over to 47th Street I spotted another burrow across the street from a residential neighborhood and just down the street from several businesses. With cars passing buy, a single owl was sitting below the wooden marker that marked its burrow. Parking across the street, I slowly rolled down the window and took several more images of the bird, (2), (3), which was somewhat wary of my presence. As I was getting ready to leave a second bird appeared a few feet away from the first. I took several images (2) of this one as it popped its head out of its burrow and peered at me.

I then drove down to the end of the street and turned around. Stopping about 30 yds from the burrows, I got out the scope and took several digiscoped images of the birds. Just before we left, I stopped one last time and rolled down the window to take a couple last shots. The first bird took offense and started hissing, so I quickly moved on! Bright eyes and hissing would be a theme for the weekend, as I'll report in the next installment....

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