Another great adventure......
In the morning we went to a lecture by Harry Fuller on the Great Gray Owl. His information and photos he shared was very interesting and rewarding. He had just published a book with Peter J. Thiemann, Great Gray Owl which I purchased right before my trip. Not a lot of information out there on this particular owl. After the great talk we got to chat with him about owls and possible places to see them in particular the allusive Northern Pygmy Owl. He mentioned that during the nighttime owl search he thought he saw one fly over head near Collier State Park by Spring Creek.
Northern Pygmy-Owls are brown with fine white speckles on the head and white spots on the back. The back of the neck features two dark patches that look like eyespots. The eyes and bill are yellow.
Photography Copyright Francesca Scalpi
Height: Males 16-18 cm (6.3-7.1 in), Females 16-18 cm (6.3-7.1 in)
Each day we would pick a bucket list bird and head out on an all day search. We both knew that trying to find a bird that is brown and less than 7 inches tall in a forest was a challenge. Being the optimist we looked on the bright side and stated that it was one part of Klamath we had never been so no matter what it was worth the trip. Collier State Park was 30 miles north of Klamath Falls on Highway 97. A Basin Pine Forest, where Spring Creek erupts from underground and is a clear cold spring.
Once near the park trying to find the creek and this bridge the 7 inch bird flew nearby was difficult. We were looking for a BRIDGE and a LARGE body of water. After driving too far north we turned around and went to explore the day use area. Across from the day use area was a Logging Museum which we pulled into. I saw a beautiful area with tall pines, small running stream near the old logging buildings. I decided to take some winter landscape photos. For the trip we bought winter hiking clothes and boots. So tripod, camera and long lens in hand we trudged through the deep snow. Down by the small stream was a hand built wood bridge. The stream went under the road with an overpass with mud nests on the ceiling. I remember him mentioning the mud bird nets. Did we fumble on the spot? Is this what they call a BRIDGE and a LARGE body of water?
The landscape was tall pines, deep snow, clear rushing water and was beautiful. There was a tall barren tree by the road with an extra large nest. There was no one home in the nest and way to big a nest for a pygmy owl. Took some photos on both side of the stream, Lotus on the wooden bridge and the mud nests. Saw a large bald eagle land in a tall pine down the creek a ways and a small bird in silhouette on a nearby tree branch. Went under the branch and heading for the large Bald Eagle down stream. Towards my way back I photographed some epiphytes on tree branches and the tall nest by the road. Lotus was on the wood bridge with the binoculars. I was curious about the odd shape small bird and asked her to see what type of wren or robin or ........ She could not spot what I was talking about. It was hard to see because of its shape and the density of the trees. So with all this heavy gear I went to the bridge, grabbed the binoculars and looked. Yes I know you already know what I saw and walked by at least 4 times it was a Northern Pygmy Owl looking back at me. It went from tree to tree and my trusty Lotus guide was able to see where it went each time. No small feat I may add to a small quick flying bird. Finding it in the tree once it landed was a difficult tasks. Each time it would take us awhile to relocate it. Each time we had a OMG there it is..... This is a bird I have photographed as a rescue bird. I always wanted to see it in the wild.