Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Owl Prowling

So why, you might ask, did I drive all the way across town to get in a swim at the Stoney Point Y today rather than just stopping in at the downtown Y, just 5 minutes away?

Well, first, I needed a swim to get rid of the pinch between my shoulders due to sitting at my desk, reading 48 (!) portfolios for the Scholastic National Arts and Writing scholarships over the last couple of days.

I decided to drive 20 minutes rather than 5 because I heard the water was warmer at the Stoney Point Y . . .

OK, OK, I also wanted to be out near where the Eastern Iowa Airport Snowy Owl has been seen.

Here he is; wouldn't YOU like to see him?
I sometimes think of him as "Karen's owl," too. She saw him once when she was driving back from Coe late at night, flying just ahead of her car!

Karen was lucky. I want to be lucky too, and see that owl. The way to get lucky--or at least luckier--is to put myself where that owl might be.

Probably by now, everyone's heard about the snowy owl irruption. Owls have been spotted all over Iowa, as you can see here. (The owl and cross shows where a dead one was found)

I found a cool video about snowy owl irruption on Cornell U's birding site. It takes a while to load, but the photography is amazing.

In hopes of seeing one, I went on the Iowa Birds listserv to find out where and when they've been spotted. There were a number of posts this weekend about the bird by the airport. Bruce drove so I could look for owls. We went out there each day of the weekend. The boys came a couple times, but they spent most of the time looking at their electronic devices.

In three trips out there, we have yet to see the owl. I'm disappointed. I REALLY want to see one, and it's so tricky. I mean, that owl could be anywhere out on those snow-covered cornfields!

But the owl-prowling has been surprisingly enjoyable, even without owls. The landscape is eerily beautiful--the snow drifting along the fence rows, the tan of the corn stumps poking through the drifts, the cozy farmhouses and beautiful barns. One day, we saw huge skeins of Canada Geese wheeling and unraveling above us--they must have been considering spending the night in a cornfield.

And there's something fun about the boondoggling aspect of these owl-less prowls. Bruce seems to enjoy himself--he was the one who offered to drive. He likes to explore. It reminds me of some of the trips and boondoggles we used to take before the boys were born--and gives a little glimpse of the future when we'll be boondoggling together again, just the two of us.

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