The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group, a place where everyone is welcome to note the observations you have made of the natural world around you. Fledglings, insects, blossoms, fish, climate, reptiles and/or amphibians: all are worthy additions to the bucket. Ask questions if you have them and someone here may well have an answer. All we ask is that you let us know where you're located, as close as you're comfortable revealing.Seattle - May 7, 2013
The regular Forest watchers have spent many hours over the years standing in rain and sun and the half-light of dawn and dusk - just standing, silently, watching and listening for the Forest's Barred Owls. In January and February we listen for the call and response of the established pairs as they reestablish their territories. A bit later we stop and smile when we hear their courting and mating sounds. We are peeping toms and we know it, and we have no shame sharing the owls' most intimate moments among ourselves.
Much of the information we share is delivered in passing. J1 and I meet on a trail, she headed into the Forest and me out, our dogs eager to swim or still wet and eager to eat, but both settling down politely at our feet as we talk. She speaks of following the crows to a new nest site, perhaps the nest of a pair too young to understand that their choice may be too close to the public places, too accessible to untrained owl paparazzi who have been directed to the nest by people who should know better. I have heard crows there for weeks now and have suspected the presence of an owl nest. Now, knowing its location, I search daily from a hidden place on the ridge above the nest site. I have not seen them, but am confident that they are there.
Other information flies through the ether. I had to be dragged into the 21st century of text messaging, but have discovered elegance in its ability to transfer information in almost complete silence when silence is necessary:
(note that there are three nests now; we refer to them as N, S, and middle)Today walked into the Forest from the spine trail, the most public trail and the one we avoid most of the year, but the one with the quickest access to the middle nest. Cut down the side trail where last year's nest snag fell just after the kids had fledged. M is standing with J2 below us, trading a single pair of binocs back and forth, both grinning, dogs quiet at their feet. M catches sight of me and gestures, her hand pantomiming the head of an owlet playing peekaboo from a nest hole. I quicken my pace but arrive too late. Owlet has hunkered down out of sight, perhaps overwhelmed by a first glimpse of the world outside of its safe place.
B to M, April 25, 2013 5:00pm: Mom's hungry. N nest.
B to M, April 25, 2013 5:02pm: Dad just flew in, not to old nest. Closer to diagonal trail
M to B, April 25, 2013 5:04pm: We're coming...
M to B, April 30, 2013 9:33am: Papa's in his roost at the middle nest.
B to M, April 30, 2013 4:30pm: He's still here. Hummingbird is pissed.
M to B, April 30, 2013, 4:31pm: Ha!
B to M, April 30, 2013, 5:26pm: He's still here. Hummingbird is still pissed
M to B, May 1, 2013 4:51pm: Anything good?
B to M, May 1, 2013 5:14pm: Not much so far
B to M, May 3, 2013 4:19pm: Mama crying east of Papa's roost. Owlet hisses. High up. Can't see anything.
M to B, May 3, 2013 4:21pm: Why aren't you climbing trees for a better look?
M to B, May 3, 2013 4:21pm: Is that the middle nest?
B to M, May 3, 2013 4:25pm: Yes
M to B, May 4, 2013 8:30am: Saw a parent fly in with supper last night. Middle nest is in the maple where we thought
B to M, May 4, 2013 5:21pm, from middle nest: Food delivery
M to B, May 4, 2013, 5:55pm: Yeah!
We stay at a respectful distance, our presence hidden by trees and brush, speaking in indoor voices. I watch the nest hole until my arms begin to shake and see nothing, then scan the surrounding trees and find one of the adults, papa we think, perched in a cedar up the trail. He leans against the tree's trunk, head nodding, eyes closed. I've seen him in this place before.
The dogs rest. A Pacific-slope Flycatcher calls above us, very close: tueet?... seet?... tk? We can't find him. Swainson's Thrush trills from the deeper forest, north. Crow's shadow scrapes the forest floor as he passes over us. He does not stop.
The local rowing crews mass in the bay below us. Their coach yells amplified words we can't understand, and the dogs stir at the sound, telling us that they need to move on. Now.
Humans and dogs go on different paths. Poppa Owl continues to rest. Owlet stays hidden.
May 7, 2013. There is at least one owlet in the Forest's middle nest.
Your turn now - what's going on in your natural neighborhood?
I'll be in for a bit after noon, but have an old friend arriving from out of town later on in the day. We'll be catching up until Friday morning but I'll check in later tonight. Carry on and be good to one another.