RE: Long-eared Owl, Mason Park, ....
Just wanted to clarify the happenings at Mason today, since I was there much
of the day and saw it all firsthand. This is kind of lengthy but trimmed as
much as I could.
The 4 (or 5?) kids (ages about 8-12) mentioned in Joel's note were
interested in the goings on so we told them about the owl as a few of us
watched it. I pointed out where it was, told them how to trace willow
branches to find it, then loaned them my binos to look at it. They were all
pretty excited to see it and asked good questions. I have always found it
better to educate than to shoo people away, regardless of their age. Right
then, the Nutting's Flycatcher (NF) popped out and I left with a few others
to join the growing crowd along the sidewalk south of the owl spot ("Site
C"). While watching the NF, someone looked back at the owl area and said
something about the kids. I looked that way and saw that one or two of them
had disappeared into the willow thicket, probably to get a better look at
it. Then someone said she saw one of them throw a rock toward it (I did not
see that happen) but we were all a long way off. Two people went over to
talk with the kids and upon returning to our group, said that the owl flew
away. Yes, the kids were in the willow thicket but so were many adult
birders - so many in fact, there is a clear-cut trail to the base of the
tree that it had been in. The kids may have scared it off but they were no
closer than many adults had been. Let's not crucify some kids when some
adults had done the same thing.
After we all had our fill of the NF, I walked around the willow thicket with
another birder in search of the owl but couldn't relocate it. Ditto for
other birders during the day. Later on, as I was leaving the park, I asked
the kids which way and how far the owl went, and they said that it flew
around to the back side of the same tree. Let's hope that tomorrow's CBC
relocates the owl.
Almost forgot to mention that, before viewing the owl with the kids and the
NF showed up, a Park Ranger drove through the entire area... right through
the dirt trail where the Harris's Sparrow was feeding with its relatives!
Now *that's* disturbing the birds. Fortunately the sparrows returned and
more people came to view the birds.
> From: Joel Weintraub
> Sent: Saturday, December 30, 2000 8:37 PM
> To: OrangeCountyBirding@egroups.com
> Subject: [OrangeCountyBirding] Long-eared Owl....
> Charity Hagen called in her day at Mason Regional Park on Saturday.
> She saw the Harris's Sparrow and the Nutting's Flycatcher but did not
> get to see the Owl. She was told by another birder that some kid had
> run through the willow clump and flushed the bird. Bob Allen had
> mentioned in a call-in that the owl had flown off its roost spot and
> had gone to the back of the tree but could not be seen from the
> Mason is a public park. Chasing birds is probably not against the
> law. I've found that out when I tried to make a case against chasing
> gulls at Doheny...with mixed (and incredulous looks) results. It's
> too bad that this situation, if true, has caused unnecessary stress on
> this bird. I hope it's back at its roost tomorrow (Sunday) so birders
> can continue to study and enjoy its presence. We might have lost a
> Christmas Bird Count species because of this.
> I don't know what the solution to this problem of "spite" is...
> perhaps better education of the public. I know that when I've been at
> Mason, birders have been wonderful in answering questions of the
> joggers and hikers as to what we were doing. I wonder if Mason
> Regional Park would consider taping off the area...but that might
> attract more attention than we would want.
> There are other areas where the trees are pretty dense and the owl
> could probably go and avoid people even more. But even in the area of
> the Flycatcher, Gary Meredith saw some kids sawing off branches for
> firewood and littering the area.... he reported that to park
> officials. If we "police" such situations, we could exaceberate the
> situation and increase the chance of mayhem. I guess the best we can
> do is to report such behavior to the Mason Rangers and see if they can
> increase their patrolling of the east side of the park.
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