Yesterday afternoon I got the following e-mail from Don Burggraf, who as you may remember joined me on an unsuccessful expedition Friday to locate the Long-eared Owl.
After I left you, I returned to the car and looked up Croton Point Park in the Audubon book, and couldn’t find the park listed there. I looked on my New York map and saw that it wasn’t listed there. So, I just went to Floyd Bennet Field (discovering many of the areas listed in the Audubon guide are now closed) and Breezy Point (finding just how well named the place is – whew! – and no purple sandpipers).
However, remembering your story of a Christmas count a couple of years ago, I decided to look one more time on my way South this morning, leaving the city. I went back to the area, found the perch we examined yesterday empty, and then I looked for white-wash. I saw some that looked relatively fresh, and some of that crumbly stuff you showed me in the Botanical Gardens. Some of the white-wash was closer to the stairs leading down to the Maryland memorial. I went around the area, looking for white wash around other trees without success. I thought I would climb the stairs one more time and have a last look. This time I started scanning as I was standing at the top of the stairs — AND I FOUND THE BIRD!
It was not visible from the place where you and I had been scanning for the bird yesterday. You showed me three trunks close together (and the bird had previously perched on the left-most trunk). This time, the bird was perched on a branch off the center trunk, considerably closer to the stairs leading down. I was able to see the orange face, the ear tufts, the heavily streaked breast, the tail. I saw it turn its head.
Today I took Beth to find the owl since she still hadn’t seen it. It had moved back to its usual brach though it was a little higher up and harder to see than it sometimes is:
I still don’t know whether the owl was actually in that tree on Friday when Don and I first looked. We searched that tree pretty thoroughly, so I suspect not; but owls are really good at hiding and we could have missed it. I guess we’ll never know. But for now it seems the owl has returned to Prospect Park.