I had an opportunity to lead a great group of folks along that section of greenway last Saturday evening in search of owls. As is usual for a nighttime walk, much more was seen. Just after crossing under Elm Lane, a half dozen white-tailed deer was seen in the woods. I had demonstrated earlier about how to scan the woods and treetops with the flashlights for eye shine and that is exactly how these deer were located.
Just a hundred yards or so onto the boardwalk a pair of barred owls started “hooting it up”. OK, phase one complete: locate owls. I pulled out my bluetooth speaker and played a barred owl recording from my phone. A large bird in silhouette came silently glided in and perched just a few yards away. Mission accomplished: Get a look at an owl. The barred owl didn’t seem to mind the dozens of flashlight beams that it was immediately subjected to. It was more intent on finding out where the intruder owl was. It did look thoroughly confused but left after a few minutes, confident the trespassing owl had been driven off. After a one-year absence, its nice to have a pair using a portion of the greenway again.
Despite the chill, both spring peepers and upland chorus frogs were in full chorus. These frogs are winter and early spring breeders, so right on schedule. They are small and hard to see but can make some good loud noise. A silent green frog looked cold in a patch of mud.
On the walk back to the parking lot, scanning the tree tops with lights did reveal a set of curious eyes shining down on us. The raccoon was well up in a large oak and climbed even higher while we watched, perhaps peeved that the nocturnal foraging was being delayed.
Despite being out after dark we still tallied three species of birds in addition to the barred owl; a pair of mallards, Canada goose, and a song sparrow we roused from its roost. Add three species of frog and two mammals, nice diversity for an easy stroll on a chilly February night.