Thursday, April 11, 2013

Great Gray Day

Viewing the Middleton, Wisconsin Great Gray Owl

High up on my bucket list is seeing a great gray owl with my husband. I imagine a scene with snow gently falling as we hike through the forest. Huge flakes melting on our tongues and faces while all is silent around us. We look up at the very same moment and there it is ... a beautiful Great Gray Owl looking at us looking at him. Beautiful silence, soft falling snow, a hooting great gray owl and us holding hands and our breath in awe. This vision and bucket list sighting was planted in my hope and dreams after seeing the Great Gray Owl scene in the movie The Big Year. The character played by Jack Black and his father see a great gray together in a touching peaceful winter scene. I thinks it is the best scene in the movie.

An opportunity presented itself during the month of March as many birders were blessed with a few Great Gray Owl sightings in Wisconsin. My husband and I decided to visit the owl who chose the Capital Brewery in Middleton, Wisconsin as a rest stop. What we saw when we got there was not a dreamy winter woodland setting. It wasn’t snowing and we weren’t alone. This owl decided on a rest stop right in the middle of civilization! We viewed the owl on Terrance avenue just past the brewery in Middleton, Wisconsin.

While we were there the owl flew down from a tree into a pile of bricks and ate something twice, probably mice. It flew to perch on a pick up truck and sat for hours watching, listening. My husband put his arm around me and smiled as we watched the owl watching us. It was more than amazing.

It watched planes and hawks that passed by as well as people. I was hoping it would fly over to the tree that we heard it favored while we were visiting but it really seemed to enjoy this truck. In fact it was still sitting on it when we left. Someone shared with us that this was a young owl, probably first winter. The brown tuft on it’s tail feathers was a sign. No one knew if it was a male or female.

Just look at it strutting it’s stuff across the back of the truck! Goose bumps. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would EVER watch a Great Gray Owl walk along the back of a pick up truck. Sometimes those out the park (or forest in this case) moments are the most memorable. I will always remember this Great Gray Day. This great gray strut .. great great stuff. Bucket list stuff. Check.

This sweet Great Gray Owl gifted it’s presence to an uncountable number of people who had never seen a Great Gray Owl  before. A life sighting for many, many thankful people. I watched a local preschool class walk along the side walk a nice distance from the owl, children pointing, smiling. How wonderful those teachers were able to share this wonderful experience with them. A mother took her child to see the owl. They watched the owl in awe together right next to me. Finally the mother said “Are you ready to go?” The enchanted little girl sighed and waved goodbye to the owl. So sweet.  This sighting wasn’t anything like I had imagined it would be, but it was just as awe inspiring to view the owl in this unique setting with the many other people who truly enjoyed this experience.

Bless this charming owl during it's visit to Middleton, Wisconsin as well as it’s journey back home.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

More Than Meets The Eye

Rotary Park and Pond

At first glance you might just pass this park by.. DON'T! 
Take a closer look. There really is more up close and beautiful than that first glance may share. Rotary park has a small pond in an industry setting with views of railroad tracks and the old coal chute and coaling tower. You may also notice the lovely reflections of the towns water tower that ripple across the pond surface as you walk around the pond. In spring migrating waterfowl stop to rest and feed before heading back home. During my recent visits common golden eye, greater and lesser scaup, northern shoveler and common loon have come to visit the pond.

 Common Goldeneye coming in for a landing. 
They weren't here when I first arrived so this was very exciting to watch them arrive!

I think they like it here! 

A combined view sharing of a mix of Lesser and Greater Scaups enjoying their time at Rotary Pond.

A view of the top of the coaling tower behind the pond. A pigeon seems to have taken residency.

 A reflective view from the pond of the top of the coaling tower.

Northern Shoveler in the back pond. As you walk around the pond you will notice a smaller pond behind the main pond that is also being enjoyed by migrating visitors each spring.

This common loon was my favorite sighting this spring so far. We see them in our area for such a brief time each spring. I love to walk along the pond and watch them move across the water's surface as they look for their next meal. It is like water ballet. Such a beautiful bird!

The distance around the whole pond is a mile. 
It is a good walk with good views to enjoy along the way.

Rotary Park
1650 State Street
DeKalb, Illinois 60115