Charles and Sarah continue their autumnal activities of vigorous duets to re-declare their territory and re-cement their pair bond. Here they are duetting last night, Charles on the left, Sarah on the right. Be sure to double click on the pictures to see a bigger version.
It is fun and fascinating watching them also vary their perch spots. Sarah has mostly been perching in The Overlook Hotel Tree but with some variations including for the first time this year, her Autumnal Perch. I found her there on Monday, November 4. Here is Sarah in The Overlook Hotel Tree on Saturday, November 2.
Notice the leaf on her head. Was she channeling Julius Caesar? Carmen Miranda?
Charles has been even more variable in his perch spots. Sometimes he has still been in The Sandwich Tree (his favorite this summer), other times in several different trees near The North-South Path, a couple of times in The AYU Tree and most interestingly, in The Lesser Northern. He perched frequently in a well-hidden spot in this tree, which is next to The Great Northern, in the summer of 2011. It took me a while to find him in that tree that summer. I thought he might use it in subsequent summers but he has not. Only occasionally would I see him there in other seasons. Here he is in this tree on Saturday, November 2. You especially have to get the angle right to find him in this perch.
If you look on the left side of my blog, you see that I only have two talks listed for the remainder of 2013. These are the last public talks of 2013 and I hope you can attend one of them! The first one is this Saturday at 11:00am in Clayton, MO at the Mid-County Library Branch of the St. Louis County Library system. This is my fifth talk for this great library system in 2013. I am excited for this talk because my girlfriend and I are regular patrons at this location and it is the system's branch closest to Forest Park. More information and registration information for the talk can be found here.
I do have several other private talks scheduled for November and December for a wide variety of organizations including the Great Rivers chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalist program (of which I am happily now a member and intern level Missouri Master Naturalist), Wild Bird Rehabilitation, and Captain Elementary School. All in all, I will give 28 talks in 2013, which quadruples the seven I did last year. Quite chuffed about that!
With the trees losing their leaves it is easier to to follow the owls, reacquire them and watch them hunting. I did just that last night and had a great time doing so. Both owls flew from the core of their territory in generally the same direction and only a few minutes apart. I found Sarah on top of the goal post of one of the park's sports fields. That was a new man-made spot on which to see them. Here she is:
Over the years I have seen them on: a softball backstop, three different bridges, a bandstand, three different buildings and a pipe. These interactions with man-made places and objects are always intriguing.
Sarah disappeared on me but then I found her in a Sycamore along a lake, a particular hunting perch that Charles often uses. I had looked in this spot before I saw Sarah on the goal post and no one was there. So I was pretty sure this was her.
I looked from another angle, one not good for photos, and I was quite confident that it was her. I stepped onto a rock in the lake to get a better view of her and moments later I saw a large mammal swimming in the lake. My first thought that it was a giant among Muskrats, then I thought it might be a Beaver (there was one in the park in 2009), but a closer look with my binoculars revealed a striped bushy tail indicating that it was a Raccoon. I had never seen a Raccoon swim so it was another first for me on the same night. It was also the second sighting of a Raccoon I had in under week.
I continued watching Sarah and marveling, not for the first time, at the thrill and privilege of watching them hunt. They are paragons of patience and observation and when you see them hunt, you understand that this is their time, their place as well as how challenging it is to hunt. She flew off towards where the lake rejoins the park's river system. I did not see her land but I know some places from which they hunt in this area. I soon found an owl in a regularly used Sycamore along the river system.
I thought it was Sarah but as I watched the owl more, I began to doubt that it was her. The owl looked more like Charles and this is a hunting spot that he uses more than Sarah. I went to the other side of the river system for a clearer look at the front of the owl and sure enough, it was Charles.
This made me slightly doubt my IDing of Sarah in the first Sycamore by the lake but I am 89.45838% certain that it was Sarah in that tree. My new view of Charles was a great one and it was exciting to have reacquired both owls. I soon departed as my own hunger needed addressing. I returned home and eagerly feasted on one Wendy's famous omelettes, copiously stuffed with spinach, Jack Cheese and bacon. Yum!
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at a talk!