I've been working for the BBC the past three weeks, trying to find a filmable great gray owl nest for an upcoming film.
As I've written in the past, I have not had a lot of success on owls the last couple of years, but this spring looked good.
I chose five areas where I had had nests in the past and started searching the forest. Right away, the lack of any kind of owl sign, let alone a great gray, was discerning. I was also discouraged by the amount of blow down in the forest. We had some incredible windstorms late winter into early spring. (Just notice the downed trees along the roadsides.)
At times I really couldn't get into certain areas because of chest high deadfall, add to that, snow and rain which made hiking steep slopes slick and dangerous.
My body really took a beating.
My only standing nest was empty. Six others had either been logged or had blown down. I did find two perfect new snags not far from a previous nest site, one had old and some fresh white wash nearby. I"m also sure I heard a couple of low hoos.
But searching the area throughly yielded no owls. Once again the deadfall was a problem.
Finally, as of last Saturday, I've had to give up.
This failure was a tough one for me.
For close to twenty years, if I had to depend on someone to locate a great gray owl nest, I'd have chosen me or my good friend Jeff Hogan. We always came through.
It's hard to admit, my time as being the guy has passed. Bad knees, arthritic ankles and a bad back keep me from going the extra mile. And I've now got to admit, it does make a difference. My mind is willing and I've still got the enthusiasm for the hunt, but my body has just had too many falls, too many miles of side hills and too much climbing over deadfall.
I'll have to stop accepting jobs offered because of my past successes. It is time for younger legs to fill the void.
I'm going to keep doing my own projects, which I can do at my own pace.
(See Next Story)