Saturday night just a mile from shore in Eastern Massachusetts was cold and windy, but that did not deter parents and children from participating in an Owl Prowl at a wildlife sanctuary that boasts vast open spaces of marsh and field, ideal habitat for Short-eared Owls.
A word of caution to trip leaders – have a back-up plan! Twice now I have taken these folks Owl Prowling only to have them go home cold, owl-less but soundly entertained.
As before, on Veteran’s Day, we watched the harriers at dusk wrapping up their day’s hunting, and opening up the fields to the Short-eared Owls who swoop in to fill that otherwise empty niche. Even in poor light it is easy to see the difference in the birds as the former fly with precision, low and purposeful, whereas the owls are fluttering around like kites on a tight string, still making their mark, but in a much more conspicuous manner. Unfortunately for me, I have not been able to show these frigid weather enthusiasts a living example.
Still, they loved the Eastern Bluebirds, the roaming deer, the fox, and the hard to see American Woodcock. The highlight of the trip this weekend though was the Moon rising like an orange carnival tent, filling the telescope with its brilliance and filling the young boys with a sense of awe. Within a few minutes, the moon had left the horizon and become smaller. But for those few minutes, we were connected to every person in every millennium who ever stood in a large open space and watched a full moon rise in the same moment the sun set behind them.
Next time I’ll bring a flashlight so we can enjoy the Woodcocks. I am striking out on the Owls.