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Northern Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium gnoma




December 4, 2011


In the wooded hills north of and adjacent to the Glen Creek drainage, just after it passes under Bunsen Peak Road ~ and just east of the YCC Camp where I live ... With reports that the Canyon Wolf Pack was active in my neighborhood the morning before, I ventured out my front door to hike the feet of the ancient volcanic cinder cone, Bunsen Peak. The snow was up to my knees at points, and I could have probably donned snowshoes, but the feel of different snow depths beneath your feet has its own rewards. Having a sense for their possible path, I plodded on. And it wasn’t long before I not only found Wolf tracks but the obvious slide path of an Otter as well. (I marveled at not only the distance from water but the hills and slopes upon which it was traveling.) As I surveyed the various signs, the flight of something caught my eye … It landed in a tree very close to me, and after pulling out my binoculars knew it was some sort of tiny, tiny Owl ~ about the size of my hand. And even more curious, as I followed the snow signs, I noticed that the little Owl was following me, in the middle of the day, flying silently … almost floating amidst the blowing flakes and crystals. I thought that perhaps the little one was as curious about me, until I heard a “thwoomp” beside me while examining tracks. And as it pumped it wings with all its might, carrying a Vole nearly the same size up to the nearest branch, I realized that this ingenious hunter was following me, waiting for that inevitable moment when I would rouse a creature from its snowy depths. It wasn’t long before the biting wind and cold coerced me back in the direction from which I had come … warm tea and marmalade toast awaits!

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