Sunday, January 22, 2006

Go north, young owl

One of the Mob

Photo by Lloyd Spitalnik

The GHO has moved to the North Woods, perhaps the most beautiful part of Central Park. He [well, I have a hunch that he's a He] was discovered there around 2pm today by photographer and nature lover Bruce Yolton, aided, as usual by the sounds of mobbing birds. Bruce reports that today's angry avian mob included titmice, nuthatches and a Downy Woodpecker as well as the usual blue-jays.

The owl was in a tree near the Loch, the picturesque stream that meanders through the woodlands in the North before emptying into the Harlem Meer. At about 4:30, Bruce reports, the bird was spooked by a sound not uncommon on a warm weekend in that part of the park -- music blaring from a Boom Box. As the Boys with the Box passed under the owl tree, the bird flew to a tree across the path, not far from the Wildflower Meadow.The boom-boxers continued walking, unaware of the little wildlife drama taking place directly above them. Had they looked up they might have been spooked in turn by what they saw.

Sir Owl sat and preened for many minutes. At 5:10 he did his final wing stretch and tail lift before take-off. He then sailed smoothly to another tree on the west side of the path, continued to preen, moved to another and then another tree, each one a bit more to the south and east. Finally, at about 5:50 it became too dark for the four fly-out observers to make out where the bird went on his next flight. He seemed to be heading for the North Meadow.

Astronomical twilight set in. The seven stars of Orion were bright in the eastern sky, with the planet Mars to their south looking very yellowish-orange. At one point I thought I heard a hoot in the distance. It was probably a distant car horn.