Wednesday, January 1, 2013
2013 came to a great conclusion especially with the events of Monday, January 30. I was quite excited and only a little nervous about my appearance that afternoon on the local NPR affiliate KWMU's show "St. Louis on the Air" hosted by Don Marsh. I felt confident that it would go well but you never know how such things will go until they happen. I arrived at the station and luckily ran into the show's web producer, Camille Phillips ,who kindly helped me get into the building and steer me to the green room. I was warmly welcomed by her, Don and the show's producers, Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer. As we got closer to air time, Don and Alex got me settled in with headphones, we did a voice check and next thing I knew we were off to the races! Don's questions were curious, insightful and genial and the show was nicely mixed with a great variety of phone calls and e-mail questions. I thoroughly enjoyed the wide range of questions and callers and e-mailers.
Two of the phone calls were ever-so-slightly expected calls from my old friend from high school George "Chip" Villareal calling from Oklahoma and my friend and owl mentee, Chris Gerli of City Cycling Tours, who was calling from Rhode Island where he was visiting with his partner and fellow owl mentee, Barb Brownell, and Barb's family. I say these calls were slightly expected as Chip had mentioned on Facebook that he would try to listen in and Chris had texted me wishing me well on my appearance. It was a pleasure to hear their voices and respond to their warm questions and comments.
Other than a few minor verbal stumbles I felt I did a solid job giving fluid, informative, engaging and concise answers and comments during the program. My friend, Robin Street-Morris, noted via e-mail that my numerous talks and owl prowls were good practice for the radio appearance. I could not agree more! You can listen to the show here: http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/insiders-look-forest-parks-great-horned-owls
Before I knew it the hour on the air drew to a close. Before I could say it, Don remarked that the hour had gone by quickly. Mary, Alex and Camille joined us in the studio voicing their kudos and remarking at the prodigious amount of phone calls and e-mails generated by this show. I hope this is indicative of the interest in the owls and my work with them as well as how I attempt to make the topic educational, engaging and entertaining. I thanked everyone for the opportunity and for all their work and I headed for home. Before driving back I turned on my phone to happily find a number of congratulatory texts and voice mails from my girlfriend Wendy, our friend Julie Portman, Chris Gerli and me mum.
After some decompression and lunch at home, I headed out early to the park. I was surprised to find Charles perched in plain sight on top of the 06/09 Nest Hollow. He was so easy to see that the crows were mobbing him like it was going out of style. I ran into a nature lover and photographer Luann Holst whom I had taken, along with her husband, Dwayne, on an owl prowl earlier in the year. We were joined a little while later to my friend and owl mentee Rusty Wandell. We all watched the very long mobbing that Charles endured while puzzling why he was in such an exposed spot at such an early hour. I was able to snag a few lucky shots of crows swooping close to Charles using a fast shutter speed. Be sure to double click on the photos to see larger versions of them.
I had hoped to see Sarah before she flew out of whatever hollow in which she is nesting. She used one hollow on Friday, a different one on Saturday and checked out a third that night and on Sunday she did not come out all during the two hours I was there. Unfortunately, I saw her on Monday in mid-flight but I did not know her point of origin. Sarah flew to the Fleur de lise Tree and then the First of The Three Trees. I was trying to watch her and Charles when Rusty pointed out that Sarah was flying. She flew low down to the edge of river way. I was confident she was heading down for a drink, something I rarely see but something I had seen before early in the nesting period, which you can read about in this blog post from two years ago.
The last few days had been quite cold and much of this portion of the river way was covered with a thin layer of ice. Sarah walked from the bank of the river way and on to the ice. I had never seen her or Charles or any owlets on ice-covered water! Sarah spent many minutes looking for unfrozen water and finally flew to a different spot on the bank that was unfrozen and took a long careful drink. She has good balance on the ice for the most part but slips and slides ever so perceptively from time to time. Sarah went ice skating! The following videos are in chronological order so you can see the full process. It was amazing to watch and I hope you enjoy it too!
Here is a photo of Sarah on the ice as well.
Owls get most of their liquid needs from the prey they eat but given that Sarah has embryos forming within her she may well need a little extra H2O. She eventually continued her duet with Charles, they mated and Charles afterward flew within mere feet of Rusty and me. Unfortunately we missed Sarah returning to her nest spot.
I returned home and Wendy and I headed out to a new restaurant in the Central West End called Cucina Pazzo by Justin for a great meal to celebrate the radio appearance and the owls in general. In the hours and days since my appearance on "St. Louis on the Air" I have had a most welcome host of great e-mails from listeners, a big spike in traffic on my blog, requests for owl prowls, many kind Facebook comments and likes, running into people in the park who heard and enjoyed the show and more new Twitter followers. Great stuff all around.
Yesterday had me back in the park. Charles was in a much more discreet spot and received significantly less mobbing. I saw Sarah exit and return to the 11/13 Nesting Hollow but as I told a few people, I am not ready to make the call on the nesting spot until I see an exit and return from the same spot in two consecutive days. Fingers crossed for today! Wendy and I rang in the new year with movies, reading and bubbly.
Thank you for reading the blog post and listening to the radio show. May you all have a great, fun, stimulating and healthy new year!