Sunday, March 23, 2014

Nassau Screech Owls

On Saturday I made a rare photography foray into Nassau County after John Turner (author of Exploring the Other Island: A seasonal guide to nature on Long Island) urged me to make a visit to his "backyard" - Massapequa Preserve.  He had mentioned that I could get good photos of Eastern Screech Owls and that while he can't guarantee anything in Nature, he could "almost" guarantee I would see one or two Screech Owls (grey morph and red morph) with little effort.  I've historically politely told him thanks in the past as he usually suggests places upstate or deep into Nassau - but since I was going to Massapequa on Saturday anyway I figured I would indulge him.  When he gave me the instructions as to where to find the birds, I jotted them down half-heartedly because it seemed far too easy to find these birds.  When we arrived, my wife and I walked down the path and following his directions as if they were a treasure map we struck gold.  Grey morph Screech, up in the Maple tree just where he said.  After I got a record shot I checked on the other "X" from the treasure map a few yards down the path, and sure enough there was the Red Morph bird, sunning itself in the warm spring afternoon.

Unfortunately the birds were a bit high up and there were some branches and other elements that prevented "the perfect shot" but considering the only other time I'd ever seen a screech is when I found one sitting in a pine tree in my back yard (despite many years of dutifully checking every tree crotch, rotted branch and small hole in the woods) I was happy.  Maybe I should take John's advice more often....