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Back to the Woods

Paying Attention To The Little Things
by Dan Hartman

June 5, 2011

I was back to hunting for owls last week, checking three nests (all empty) and searching through new territories. Strangely enough Iím not even finding any sign. I did find a feather high above Pebble Creek and a splash of white wash along the Lost Lake Trail. But that is it. Usually by now I have two or three nests. Are the owls arriving late because of the incredible snow cover last winter? Or are they going to simply take the year off? Research says either is possible. In case it is the former Iíll have to re check nests I visited a month ago.

Today I decided to stop pushing so hard. It seems when youíre obsessing about one thing, you miss many others that are just as important. Iím going to start paying attention to the other things. I left the car just east of Lake Creek Falls and headed north. Sage covered hills, aspen groves and stands of mature spruce and pine beckoned. Ruffed grouse drummed from the timber. Deer fed in the aspen stands. A goshawk swooshed by clutching a squirrel. When I investigated a patch of thick spruce, I found one of the goshawks perches. Whitewash covered the branches and grouse feathers lay on the ground. Behind the tree lay the cutest little bear bed with five scats scattered nearby. A snowshoe hare nibbled on pine boughs in a sun splashed opening. He let me get far too close, so I whistled like a hawk and he sprang away. Farther on I was examining a porcupine-damaged tree when I spotted eggshells on the ground. Looking up I soon found the nest. Strangely, there was no robin perched inside. Also, usually birds carry the eggshells away from the nest site. It looks like this one had been plundered by a predator. A marten maybe? As I passed through an aspen grove I spotted another snowshoe hare. Behind the hare lay a hollow log. A den possible? Iíll return in a few days to see if there are young hopping about. In a boggy area full of young spruce I searched for boreal owl sign. A red-backed vole popped out of a squirrel midden and ran a few feet to disappear down a hole. Well there is the food, where is the owl? I surprised a coyote. It darted away like itsí tail was on fire. Grouse, snowshoe hares, deer fawn, voles, squirrels. Hunting must be good.

I emerged from the timber about a half-mile from my car. Another owless hike. It just didnít bother me as much this time.


View slide show

Snowshoe Hare Nibbling On Spruce

South End of a North Bound Hare

Porcupine Damage

Egg Shell

Pasque Flower

Snowshoe at the entrance to it's den