Editor’s note: We’ll be sharing a few stories from Ann’s nature observation notebooks over the coming weeks. We hope you enjoy them!
Driving home from a meeting the other night, almost to the house, just about at the chicken house, a small bird fluttered to the ground.
What the heck, I thought, is that?
It landed softly on the road and just sat there looking straight into the car lights. The little bird was a soft grayish-brown and looked fluffy. It was six to eight inches tall, according to my estimate.
By then I had identified him a an Eastern screech owl. I’ve seen them here before and heard them even more often, but I’d never had such a good look.
We sat, mesmerized, looking at each other for a bit. Then he fluttered up and flew into the woods across from the chickens. He didn’t seem to be a strong flyer.
I hope he stays around. I’m not trying to raise purple martins or anything else, so everyone is welcome to hang out here. I don’t know if he is a nest robber or a predator of smaller birds. Whatever. I’ll just let nature take its course and be happy with that!
by Ann Collins, with additional photos by Linda Jo Conn
Linda Jo Conn and I just got back from “Nature Nerd Nirvana” – a phrase coined by a fellow traveler this past weekend. Ten lucky participants were able to trail along after Master Teacher Dale Kruse on Bryoventure III. We spend three glorious days immersed in the flora and fauna of the Big Thicket National Preserve. Talk about herding cats; Dale actually had a whistle to keep us rounded up!
Dale arranged lodging at the Research Station in Saratoga, Texas. We brought our own food and “drink,” but everything else was furnished. Not exactly the Plaza, but more than adeqquate for our needs.
Trails in the Thicket were in great shape. There hadn’t been too much rain, so there were few muddy ruts in the roads. Of course, some of us managed to get in water deep enough to seep in over out boot tops – not me, of course! One trekker actually fell in and another, who shall remain nameless, fought her way across a bay gall (that’s an area dominated by sweet bay and holly) on a fallen cypress log. Such fun to watch!
We were supposed to ignore all the vascular plants and focus entirely on the bryophytes – like that was going to happen! Fortunately, birds are somewhat difficult to see with so much vegetation, and the trees are so tall!