[Tweeters] another Skagit Pygmy Owl

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 16 18:41:16 PST 2009

Dear Tweeters,

Today I decided to stay closer to home, and not chase anything.

A late-afternoon visit to Rasar State Park started out extremely quiet. It took a half hour to find any vertebrates (not counting the three kids, fawning cocker spaniel, and yappy long-haired dachshund that greeted me on the otherwise deserted trail).

This park is between Hamilton and Concrete, along the Skagit River's north bank.

A few passerines turned up, including six very confiding Spotted Towhees at dusk.

At about 5:30 PM, a NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL started doing single toot notes. This bird did not come in when I imitated it, although that trick usually serves me well. However, it did toot for a good five minutes. It gave only single toots, not the fast series of agitated notes. I never saw the bird, though.

There was also a weird call at the same time the owl was calling. If it had been June, I would have thought I'd heard a Common Nighthawk calling "peent!" If I was back east in summer, I would suspect that I was hearing an American Woodcock. I heard this sound three or four times, and have no idea what it was. The only winter sound that comes to my mind is one of the grunting calls that certain diving ducks make, but I was quite far from the river at this point, so I was stumped.

On the meadow edge directly below the parking area, I found a couple of good-sized owl pellets, way too big for NOPO pellets. Barred Owls have occurred here in the past.

Yours truly,

Gary Bletsch   Near Lyman, Washington (Skagit County), USA   garybletsch at yahoo.com    

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