Monday, April 11, 2011

Baby Owls!! Also, warblers and turtles -- yay spring!

There were so many exciting things happening in the woods today, and I'm having a hard time deciding what to share first! OK, I'll just dive in.

So apparently I'm on something of an owl streak right now. Today, I decided to walk my usual loop in the Naugatuck State Forest, but in the opposite direction, and that turned out to be a really good idea because it got me into just the right position to spot this:

See the little fuzzy thing on the left? OMG Great Horned Owl baby! (Or possibly babies!)

I can't believe this owl's nest was just right there, and so close to the path -- I don't know how many times I must've walked right by without knowing it was there. The owl I saw the other day was in this same area, so it was almost certainly a member of this nesting pair. I'm so excited to have found this nest, but I'm also a little worried for these guys -- I heard the crows going after the owls again when I was leaving the woods, and with the nest clearly visible from the path, what if people find it and get nosy and disturb it...? I mean, I would hope no one would actually do that, and these are big birds and I guess they can probably take care of themselves, but still, I worry.... Well, I guess there's nothing I can do from here besides wait and see what happens!

I can already tell I'm going to learn a ton of new birds this summer. The migrants are starting to come back and/or pass through this area right now, and I saw at least four different small songbirds today that I'd never seen before.

Of all those mystery birds, I was only able to positively identify this one: a Palm Warbler. There were three or four of these guys all hanging out in one spot, flying around and catching bugs out of the air. I can see why so many people are interested in warblers -- what stunning birds. As it turns out, Palm Warblers live in the very southern United States and the Caribbean during the winter, and they breed in the summer all the way up in Canada. So that means that these birds were right in the middle of their migratory trip when I saw them, and they just happened to stop to spend a little while (a day? a few days?) in this forest. I guess that's probably another reason why people like warblers: it feels like a stroke of luck to see these birds as they're just passing through.

OK, enough bird talk -- on to the herps! I was very happy to see these Painted Turtles basking in the sun, because I wasn't entirely sure whether there were actually any turtles in these lakes. Now I know that there are. :) And they're the first reptiles I've seen this year! Yay!

So spring is definitely in full swing now, what with all the fluffy babies and reptiles and migrants around today. It's supposed to rain for the rest of the week, but I already can't wait until the weather clears up and I can get out into the woods again!

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