The Burrowing Owl that has made the nature area on the north side of the park its seasonal home was in fairly good view on Sunday. At least a couple of dozen park visitors who had never seen one before were able to spot this “little brown lump in the grass” with their naked eyes, and peer at a zoom image through my camera screen. The owl occasionally dropped low into the grass where only the top of its head could be seen, and only the sharpest of human eyes could make it out unaided. But most of the time it stood with its head and shoulders in plain view, much to the delight of visitors. Some skeptics who thought my camera was showing a YouTube video and there was no real bird there were finally won over.
The owl had a brief visit from some crows early on, but they departed without any ruckus developing like yesterday. Once again, dog owners oblivious to the maps and signs, or contemptuous of them, ran their dogs in the nature area. Once again, the owner of a medium black dog let his dog chase a Great Egret, as if that were sport. What would they think if a giant bird chased their dog? Then I saw a group of four people, without dogs, walking clear across the nature area as if it were an ordinary lawn. They claimed they only saw a sign about dogs but had no idea that the area was closed to people. In fact, the new signs that Parks recently put up are not well placed and need improvement in design; see the review here. Several owl watchers expressed their frustration with the lack of protection that the park offers birds.
This owl kept an alert watch all around it. It showed no sign of stress at being watched sometimes by a cluster of six or eight or more animated park visitors. Kids expressed particular delight, and parents were diligent in helping even the youngest get a glimpse of the bird. It is a special event when one shows up at the park, and nobody knows how many Burrowing Owls are in our future.