an owl, a duck and two guys from New Jersey

Denny Granstrand osprey at
Wed Mar 6 20:53:28 PST 2002

I returned to the Samish Flats yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, after not
seeing the Falcated Duck on Sunday, to make another attempt. I was also
hoping to see the Great Gray Owl. Last evening I make a brief survey of the
area to find the tide out an impossible distance and then went for the owl.
I dipped there, also. I did meet Rachel Lawson, who had been looking for
the owl since 10:00 yesterday morning with no success.

I stayed in Mt. Vernon and was at Samish Island Road by 6:40 this morning,
Wednesday. I expected to see the wigeons in the grassy field at the corner
of Samish Island Road but they never went into it. There were good numbers
of wigeon to the east of the road, so I scanned there for a while. At about
8:00 or so Charlie Wright, Carol Scholtz and a friend whose name I can't
remember showed up. Together we scanned until the sun totally ruined the
view and then decided to go for the owl. Charlie spotted a Thayer's Gull
that was right out in front of us. I was in a single-minded search for the
duck but appreciated Charlie's versatility.

We had just started our owl search when two guys showed up asking where the
owl was. The road on which it has been seen is wooded on both sides. I
said that the owl might be somewhere in the trees ahead. One of the guys
replied abruptly, "Well, which tree?" I told him it could be in any of them
or might not be there at all. He replied that they only had six hours!

He then asked where the West 90 was, so that they could walk out to the dike
to look for the Falcated Duck. After several attempts to explain, with both
of us getting increasingly crosser, I finally was able to tell them in a way
they understood. Part of it might have been my fault for using points of
the compass - east, west - when they had no idea where north was. I thought
about telling him from the West 90 to walk straight until his hat floated
and he would know where west was. But I restrained myself. I don't
intentionally try to insult or rile people up. I do it accidently enough as
it is. I thought he sounded like he was from Brooklyn and attributed his
attitude to that.

They left soon after that. We stayed looking for the owl for a while longer
then returned to try to find the duck. At about 10:15 I bit the bullet and
from the West 90 walked out onto the dike, finally catching up with the two
guys and Ted Peterson. Together we shared the two scopes we had, taking
turns scanning the wigeons on the bay.

I got the full story about these two guys. They were from New Jersey and
not Brooklyn. ( I hope my friends from Brooklyn weren't insulted.) They
were on their way to look for the Great Spotted Woodpecker that is now being
seen about 150 miles north of Anchorage. They had initially hoped to have
time to make an attempt at the Falcated Duck but could not arrange their
flights to do it. Lucky for them, their flight did stop in Seattle and was
delayed for eight hours, so they rented a car. They had a scope in their
carry-on but their tripod was in their luggage.

One of them said, "I hope my wife doesn't find out about this trip to
Alaska." I asked him, "What did you do, leave for work yesterday and say
you would be back next week?" He replied that his wife had to work lots of
overtime this week so she was staying with her mother, whose house was
closer to her office than their's was. She thought he was going to Cape May
to look for a White-winged Dove that is hanging out there. All he has to do
it call her every night. When the cat's away, the mice will play! He is a
little afraid that she will think he is messing around with something other
than birds.

At a little after 11:00 I spotted the Falcated Duck in a long line of
American and Eurasian Wigeon. It is an incredible bird! We all got great
looks at it. It was a wonderful end to a hard, cold search.

Unfortunately, I did not see the owl. Charlie and Carol tried a second time
but did not see it, either.

Denny Granstrand
* * * * * * * * * * *
* Denny Granstrand *
* Yakima, WA *
* osprey at *
* * * * * * * * * * *

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