Tuesday WC and Mrs. WC headed out to attempt their first Short-eared Owl survey at Camas Prairie in southcentral Idaho. Readers will recall WC volunteers for the Western Asio Flammeus Landscape Study (WAfLS). Asio Flammeus is the Short-eared Owl. For more background on the project and WC’s other assigned route, see the Weiser posts.
It’s a late spring at Camas; the roads are still a muddy mess – WC and his SUV will be spending some quality time with a pressure washer, dealing wit a couple hundred pounds of congealed mud – and the marsh is still brown. Apart from waterfowl, spring migrants are absent and late. Once again, the route was free of any Short-eared Owls, leaving WC with the cold comfort that the absence of birds was still data.
But there were other birds along the way. The light for bird photography was horrible, but here are a few shots.
Raptors were scarce, although we did see three Golden Eagles. There were surprisingly few Northern Harriers.
A few Long-billed Curlews had arrived. Like Red-tails, they nest on Camas. There were fewer Curlews around than inprior years.
Meadowlarks are typically early arrivers, and they were present in decent numbers, singing on territory.
We didn’t find Sandhill Cranes until pretty late, when the light had gotten even worse. This bird likely nests at Camas. Ornithologists can’t agree on subspecies of Sandhills, but this is probably Greater Sandhill Crane, as opposed to the Lesser Sandhills we are familiar with in interior Alaska. Interestingly, when another pair, about half a mile away, flew and called, these birds called also.
WC and Mrs. WC have a second owl survey to perform at Camas. We hope by then things will be a bit greener, spring and summer migrants will have arrived, and, just maybe, there will be Short-eared Owls around as well.