With a few hours to kill yesterday before the sun set, I found myself doing some birding at Lake Erie Metropark. With absolutely brutal temperatures in the previous days, temps in the teens (or low 20's?) felt downright balmy. Wind pants, good boots and the ever reliable hat was really all I needed. (Okay, I was, of course, wearing other clothes).
Following a tip from a good friend, I located a second Great Horned Owl nest in the park. While this may seem early to some, its not. They are right on schedule. Yup, that's right - they are on eggs before the end of January. For the record, there will likely be two eggs (though three or four is possible). Incubation will last about 30 days. Looking ahead, the eggs should hatch sometime around the 18th of February. In the event of a problem and the eggs are lost, they may try again.
The tree could not be in a more perfect location. A giant hollow from the broken trunk has created the perfect cup-shaped nest. The only thing I would adjust is the tree's position. A trunk rotation is in order. The open face of the cup is on the west side of the trunk. With most weather systems coming from that direction, she is going to get all the wind, snow and rain. But, so be it. That is the risk they take when they don't make their own nest. You can't look a gift horse in the mouth, as the saying goes. I look forward to watching them in the coming months. (You can see her in the picture on the left. Half of her face is obscured as she sits on the left side of the tree cavity.)
A short time later, I found myself walking along the shoreline south of the boat launch. Within a few minutes, I found myself surrounded by Common Redpolls. The size of the flock was difficult to judge, but I don't think 75 (plus or minus a few dozen) is too unbelievable. I was hoping to secure a Hoary Redpoll, but I couldn't find one.
Viewing along the shoreline was also ideal for Bald Eagles. At any given point, half a dozen could be seen. While a few where adults (white heads), most were not. The shot (left) was of a particularly cooperative young bird. I was really hoping to see one take a duck (there where thousands along the shoreline) but it was not to be.
I managed almost 30 species in my two hours.