I tried for this species on Gage Road, the evenings of the 15th, 16th, 17th &
the morning of the 18th- with no luck. I decided to wait until the conditions
were better. I was waiting for a calm night with a clear sky, moonlight and
hopefully some snow cover. All of those conditions were met except for the
snow cover. I arrived on Gage Road at 4:35 p.m. and parked on the corner
where the road turns 90 degrees toward the old barn. The entire flock of
Snow Geese were in the corn field west of the road after the 90 degree bend.
I estimated about 3,000 but there were probably more. They stayed feeding
until about 4:40 p.m. or so and then they took off toward the hidden pond. I
then focused on trying to see a Short-eared Owl. I was looking toward the
south and kept scanning the fields. I then decided to look at the field to the
north and that is when I saw a Short-eared Owl no more than 50 ' from me at
4:53 p.m. It was flying over the field about 6-8' off the ground. It was
definitely hunting because it turned on a dime and pounced onto something
and when I tried to get it in my scope it wasn't there anymore. I then got it in
my bins and saw it pounce onto something else. This time I was able to see it
in my scope and I could actually see the dark triangle shaped patches that
surround each eye. It was also looking around frantically while on the ground.
It then flew off and began hunting along the tree line on the east side of the
same field. It went down and out of sight, then up and down again but that
time it stayed down for about 10 seconds. It reappeared flying toward the
west and was being chased by another owl. I thought it may have been
another Short-eared Owl.
The latter owl caught up to the Short-eared and after what seemed to be a
very slight (half hearted) skirmish, flew to the ground. I got it in my scope and
saw that it was a Great Horned Owl. I can only "speculate" but I think the
Great Horned chased the Short-eared just enough to get it to drop what it
had "possibly" just caught. I kept watching the Great Horned through my
scope. Its' ear tufts were flattened and it kept ducking a bit as the Short-
eared was flying over it and sort of barking at it. That was the first time that I
ever heard a Short-eared Owl. After a bit I heard the Short-eared in the field
to the south and then saw the Great Horned fly off. I was able to see these 2
owls through my scope because of the moonlight.
The full moon will be on Wednesday evening and if anyone wants to try for
Short-eared Owl, I would suggest trying it soon.
Good luck to those of you that try for it.