A week of frustration and doubt ended happily this morning when the Burrowing Owl in the Nature Area on the north side of the park was spotted again. Credit goes to park visitor Evie Williams, who saw the elusive bird about 100 yards east of where it was seen most recently, and showed it to me and other owl-hungry viewers. Several of us had spent hours in recent days scanning with binoculars and zoom lenses, without success. There was growing speculation that the owl had left already. Not so! The owl is very much here, but has not made itself easily visible, as some owls have done in the past. It’s perched in deep grass, with just the top of its head visible, and if you didn’t know what to look for you’d never see it.
As I watched it, the owl tracked an airplane, then a runner, and for a while kept its eyes on the camera and the person behind it. It also turned away, looked south, and sometimes shut its eyes as if ready to have a little nap. Its current location takes it farther away from the dangerous gate in the boundary fence and gives it a little more security from the usual path of dogs that irresponsible owners let loose in the supposedly protected area. But not entirely — I’ve seen unleashed dogs roam within a few yards of the owl’s current location. Until the entire dog park is fenced and properly gated, wildlife will experience no sustained tranquility in the park.
Updated next day, Feb. 11: The owl remained in the same spot as yesterday. At first only the top of its head was visible, but after a while something alerted it and it rose a bit higher. A bright overcast provided better lighting and allowed clearer, sharper images. Here is a short video and a photo: