A friend (Steve Metz) and I hiked into Trabuco Canyon Friday night from the top of the mountains to see what we could find for owls. The hike was a very long one in the dark and took us over 6 hours. We were mostly looking for Spotted Owl that we did eventually find one but it was way down in the canyon. There is certainly no simple way to get to this owl. In the past I have often found them much higher in elevation so I would guess that they are downslope for winter. Even coming in from the bottom would not be simple to get into the canyon where he was but we may try coming in from the other direction next time.
I did get some decent recordings even though we never got to photograph it. I have long wanted decent recordings of this owl because it sounds so different than the other California race of Spotted Owls I have found in the Sierras. The race that are in our mountains are suppose to also be the California race and not the Northern race that is found along the north coast of California, Washington and Oregon. These owls in our mountains sound closer to the Northern race I have heard. When I get the calls onto a computer, I'll post a link to them.
Next were Saw-whet Owls. I never knew that Saw-whets went into Trabuco and thought they were only in Silverado and adjacent canyons. I'm sure we had a minimum of 3 to 4 Saw-whet owls (this is very conservative). I have also been trying for several years to get a photo of one of these in our mountains. They (Saw-whet Owls) are so illusive and shy in the Santa Ana Mountains that getting one to stop long enough to take a photo has been just impossible for me. I probably did not get any great photos because they were always buried in the thick but I should have something decent enough to post on our (Orange County Birding) site.
Overall it was a good night for owling and we ended up with 5 species of owls, decent recordings and a few photos. It doesn't seem that the owls are often reported. They are prevalent, even in the city and I think most of us are always interested in hearing what people are finding. If anybody knows of Burrowing, Long-eared (we had a few in Silverado and Limestone Canyon recently for the Christmas Bird Count), or Short-eared Owls... please post it here or send me an email.
Good birding and owling,
We can't protect the owls if we keep them a secret.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]